Thursday, February 7, 2008

Basic Wine and Cheese Pairings

All wine connoisseurs will tell you that there are specific wines that match up with specific foods and pairing wine with cheese is no exception. However, it can be argued that there are no definite answers, only basic guidelines. The best way to find out this information is to find your own personal preference and to be creative. Use the guidelines as you wish, but only you can decide which cheese you like to go with which wine.

The basic wine and cheese pairings that you will find, if you look at any website or in any book on such a subject are basically following two simple rules. White wines tend to go well with soft cheeses that have a stronger, more pungent flavor and smell. Red wines generally work better with hard cheeses that have much milder flavors. Once you bear these rules in mind, it can't hurt to be imaginative and try out different combinations to see which ones you like. You never know you might just find a wine and cheese pairing that differs from the rules, but still works well anyway!

When looking at white wines, the fruitier and sweeter white wines and the dessert wines tend to work really well with a massive range of cheeses, from the hard to the soft, from the smelly to the mild. If you are planning a wine and cheese party, this wine would be the best place to start, especially if you are a beginner in such a topic. Dry white wines tend to only work with a few select cheeses, as I will explain.

Champagne and sparkling white wines have a tendency to work well with strong cheeses such as Brie and Camembert. If you prefer a nice bottle of Chardonnay, however, the best cheese that you should start at is milder and much softer to the sense of smell. Something like mild cheddar, perhaps, or Gruyere. Goat cheeses seem to work really well with most of the Loire Valley wines and also a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

When looking at red wines, bear in mind the above guideline - harder, yet milder tasting cheeses work better. Therefore, if you are about to open a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, a Camembert or sharp cheddar would be the cheese of choice. A bottle of Shiraz would also go nicely with the strong cheddar. If you were to be eating Stilton or Gorgonzola, however, a nice fortified wine, such as Port would be the best pairing.

Some other wine and cheese suggestions:
Beaujolais - brie, feta, muenster
Bordeaux - havarti
Cabernet Sauvignon - brie, camembert, strong cheddar, Danish blue
Champagne - vintage brie, mild cheddar, chevre, colby, edam, gouda
Chardonnay - mild cheddar, gruyere, provolone
Chenin Blanc - camembert
Gewurztraminer - boursin, caraway, chevre, swiss
Riesling - cheshire, colby, edam, gouda, monterey jack
Rioja - strong cheddar, havartiSancerre - goat cheese
Sauvignon Blanc - strong cheddar, gruyere
Sherry - bleu
Sherry, sweet - vintage brie
Port, Tawny - bleu, roquefort, stilton
White Zinfandel - cream cheese
Zinfandel - muenster

At the end of the day, these are only guidelines to allow you to pair cheese and wine accordingly. You are an individual, and should therefore experiment with your own tastes. Why not have a wine and cheese party and work out different combinations? The more you try, the more likely you are to find a good combination. Have fun with your wine and cheese, but most of all, enjoy it!

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