Whether you’re a professional chef, sommelier, someone buying a winery, or simply a wine enthusiast looking into wine marketing and wine sales, wine and cheese pairings are a must. This is a centuries-long culinary treat that has stuck around for a reason: there's nothing better than the best wine and cheese pairings.
Due to the complexity of wine flavors, it’s wise to treat each pairing differently. A steak wine pairing, wine pairing with chicken, turkey wine pairing, and wine pairing with salmon are all different for the same reason.
Wines are produced in different terroirs, which refers to the geographic location and climate the grapes are grown in. Individual climates influence the final taste of wine, and which cheese it matches with. For example, a morbier cheese wine pairing is vastly different than a wine you'd pair with cheddar. Below you’ll find our recommendations for wine and cheese pairings across several varieties. You don't need to take sommelier classes to understand these classic pairs.
Wine and Cheese Pairing Chart
Before pairing up specific wine vintages and cheeses, it helps to see recommendations for general wine and cheese types. Take a look at the types of wine chart for cheese pairing below:
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Best Wine and Cheese Pairings
While there’s no single wine that works great for all cheeses, it’s difficult to go wrong with Champagne, Pinot Grigio, or Merlot. Cheeses range from tart and tangy to sweet and creamy, so it’s important to choose a wine that matches.
Champagne has nearly universal appeal for cheese pairing because it’s a low acid wine and comes with neutral flavors. This creates room on the palate for the cheese selection to shine through. When both the drink and food are too salty or rich, it overwhelms the palate and makes flavors difficult to discern.
Pinot Grigio is another white wine with prominent pear, honeysuckle, apricot, and green apple tastes. The tartness of these flavors is a counterpoint to the soft creaminess of many cheeses.
Additionally, Merlot is a crowd favorite and provides cherry, chocolate, and berry flavors. This combination of sweet, indulgent tastes offers a marvelous counterpoint for the sharp, sometimes spicy character of cheese.
Blue Cheese Wine Pairing
Some of the best blue cheese wine pairing options include Port, Sherry, and Prosecco. Blue cheese is a popular selection for dinners and snacking and goes best with sweeter wines.
Port carries flavors like blackberry, caramel, and raspberry, which mix well with the salty, spiciness of blue cheese. Sherry has a more complex taste, including flavors like jackfruit, lemon, and mushroom.
Finally, Prosecco’s aromatic, fruit-centric tastes like pear, apple, and melon cut through the mold’s signature flavor on the first sip. Each of these wines offers a taste that complements or balances the unique flavor of blue cheese.
Goat Cheese Wine Pairing
Excellent choices for goat cheese wine pairing are Vermentino, Malbec, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Goat cheese is known for being soft on the tongue and tart on the palate, which prompts interesting choices in wine.
Vermentino has low-to-medium sweetness, with fruity tastes of green apple, lime, and grapefruit. Its higher acidity and dryness balances out the dominant creaminess of goat cheese.
Malbec and Pinot Noir are two red wine types with raspberry, foresty, blackberry, and light oaky notes that contrast tart cheeses. Finally, Syrah--or Shiraz--has tobacco, blackberry, and blueberry accents that lay nicely over the palate. This broader selection of wines is proof that goat cheese can mix well with diverse flavors.
Mac And Cheese Wine Pairing
If you need a great mac and cheese wine pairing, you’ll do right with a Chenin Blanc, Riesling, or an unoaked Chardonnay. This classic dish is a crossroads of creamy and tangy, meaning it needs these zippy types of white wine to balance it out.
Chenin Blanc is a medium-dry white wine that pairs well with mac and cheese. The wine works to cut through thick, cheesy recipes, while the bubbles amplify the soft texture of the macaroni.
Riesling is more fruity and floral, offering stronger peach, lemon, and pineapple tastes. Similar to Chenin Blanc, it’s a dry white with plenty of acidity and a light body. This is a natural counterpoint to the melt-in-your-mouth characteristics of fresh mac and cheese.
Chardonnay--a white wine with medium tannin levels and full-body--offers tropical fruit flavors for your mac and cheese dish. Taking sips of mango-, pineapple-, and papaya-flavored wine between tart bites of creamy pasta is an excellent way to enjoy the evening.
Époisses Cheese Wine Pairing
Looking for a few Époisses cheese wine pairing ideas? You’re covered with a Lambrusco, Beaujolais, St. Laurent, or Barbera. Époisses is a pasty, almost liquidy cheese that’s made from raw cow’s milk. Due to its soft consistency, it lets off a strong smell that makes it a better fit for specific wines.
Lambrusco works well because of its abundant fruit flavors, like mandarin orange, watermelon, and cherry. This sparkling red wine has lower wine alcohol content and offers sensory relief from this intense cheese.
Beaujolais and Barbera both have prominent red fruit tastes, like cranberry, raspberry, currant, and strawberry. With sweet fruit flavors front and center, your palate will be refreshed between bites of Époisses’ strong taste.
If you want a surefire fit, St. Laurent is a great selection. This dry red wine is similar to Pinot Noir, offering cherry, anise, and blackberry elements. Similarly to the other wines, a strong fruit base combined with smoky and spicy undertones cuts through the thick, pasty presence of Époisses.
Manchego Cheese And Wine Pairing
Need a suitable Manchego cheese and wine pairing? You’re in good shape with a Rioja, Cava, or Verdejo. Manchego is a rich, crumbly cheese that’s known for its grassy, zesty flavor. As such, it needs an equally intense wine to stretch out its flavor profile.
Rioja is similar to Merlot with its chokeberry, elderberry, and cherry flavors, plus high tannin and acidity levels. One may think that such a strong wine would overpower the cheese’s characteristics, but in this case, it allows Manchego’s tartness to shine through.
On the lighter side, Cava wine makes a good pair with its almond and lemony tastes. This sparkling white or rosé is a lighter-bodied, low calorie wine and offers potent citrus notes that amplify the cheese’s existing taste.
Verdejo is another light and crisp wine that offers a fennel, peach, and grassy taste. Normally, flavors like this may be too strong for a cheese-centered meal, but in this case, they accentuate Manchego’s zesty characteristics.
Morbier Cheese Wine Pairing
A quality Morbier cheese wine pairing is with Gewürtztraminer, Jura, or Pinot Noir. Morbier is a French cheese that has a nutty, somewhat bitter taste combined with fruity aromas and flavors. Let’s break down the three aforementioned wines and why they work so well.
The widely-appreciated Gewürtztraminer offers tropical and stone fruit flavors, like apricot, mango, pineapple, and a little bit of pepper. The fruit notes present in both the cheese and wine mix well with each other. In addition, elements like mango and honey stand out on the palate against the backdrop of the cheese’s creaminess.
Jura wine, on the other hand, is bone dry and nutty. It’s a highly acidic wine that has a spicy minerality to it. Jura offers a more balanced pairing with the darker tastes of Morbier without drawing the palate away from the cheese.
Finally, Pinot Noir is earthy and light enough to match Morbier’s characteristics without being too overpowering. Its mushroom and forest floor elements mesh well with the bitter and nutty components of the cheese.
"Key Takeaway: This is a centuries-long culinary treat that has stuck around for a reason: there's nothing better than the best wine and cheese pairings."
Frequently Asked Questions About The Best Wine and Cheese Pairings
If you haven’t settled on which cheese you want for your charcuterie board yet, fret not. There are dozens of combinations available depending on what kind of wine you have on hand. Check out these frequently asked questions about wine and cheese pairings and our answers below:
What Kind of Wine Goes With Cheese?
There is no one-size-fits-all for cheese and wine pairing. It depends entirely on what you’re looking for and the flavor combinations that work for it.
If you need a couple ideas to get started, we have you covered. Take a look at the popular cheese and wine pairs below:
- Sauvignon Blanc and goat cheese
- Champagne and brie
- Pinot Noir and gruyere
- Merlot and cheddar
- Provence Rosé and havarti
- Aged Port and blue stilton
- Moscato d'Asti and gorgonzola
- Tempranillo and idiazabal
- Cabernet Sauvignon and aged cheddar
- Champagne and camembert
What Do You Serve At a Cheese and Wine Party?
When hosting a wine and cheese party, it’s good to approach it in a smorgasbord or charcuterie fashion. This means you’ll be serving several kinds of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres that can be eaten together on small plates. Effectively, you'll have a menu that fits the a la carte meaning.
Here’s a list of foods you can include at your cheese and wine party:
- Candied, roasted, or salted nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts)
- Deli meat and sausage slices
- Dried fruit (apricots, pineapples, strawberries, mangoes, figs)
- Plain or marinated olives
- Crackers, biscuits, and small cookies
- Fruit preserves, jams, and jellies
- Dark chocolate, caramels, or hard candies
- Fresh hummus, pesto, or other cracker dipping sauces
What Cheeses Go With Red Wine?
Strong, aged cheeses like cheddar, sharp Swiss, and gouda go best with red wines. This is for several reasons.
One, red wine tends to have bold and fruity flavors. This makes them great pairs for intense cheese tastes because the cheese needs something strong to match with.
Two, the taste of cheese can sometimes linger on the tongue, and more neutral wines will only strengthen that. Instead, red wines bring prominent fruit flavors to bear which acts as a counterpoint to the tanginess of cheeses.
Wine Puns are Always In Pour Taste
Learning more about wine and cheese pairings is similar to using a wine aroma kit. At first, you’ll be overwhelmed by all the combination possibilities, but you’ll discover which flavors match the right foods-it's similar to discovering lamb wine pairings. The best wine and cheese pairings come together with practice as much as with studying.
Use blog posts like this one to guide your dinner party planning or menu engineering. You can get a head start with drink and food pairings the experts use and become more creative from there.