Any true Italian will tell you that the best way to enjoy a nice glass of wine is to drink it along with some food. There are many great combinations of wine and food that are definitely worth a try, with many regions in Italy having their own combinations that they are particularly proud of.
Today, however, we will be focusing on cheese. Wine and cheese go together like few other food and drink combinations in the world, but it is important to make sure that you get the right cheese to go along with your wine and vice-versa.
As such, we’re going to take a look at some combinations that you absolutely have to try the next time you have some people around for a dinner party and are looking for the perfect appetisers.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Strong Cheddar
If you have a strong red wine it is always best to combine it with a strong cheese. After all, if you don’t then the wine will quickly overpower the cheese and you won’t get to experience how the flavours mesh together to create a cohesive whole.
Try combining a nice Cabernet Sauvignon with a cheese that is firm and has a little bit of a peppery edge to it. Strong English cheddar is an excellent choice here, as it will match up to the wine perfectly. Try serving it over grilled bread to really make the most out of the meal.
Pinot Noir and Gruyere
If you prefer a lighter red wine you are going to need a slightly milder cheese to go along with it, again to avoid the issue of overpowering the wine with the cheese and thus ruining the flavours you experience.
In these cases we recommend trying a Pinot Noir alongside a Gruyere. The delicate flavours of the cheese, which also offers a nice hint of nuts, are not too intense and will mesh with the slightly lighter flavours offered by the Pinot Noir. This makes the combination ideal if you prefer something a little less challenging for your palette and want to serve a light and easy appetiser before a main course that features particularly rich flavours.
Sauvignon Blanc and Goat’s Cheese
There is no denying that goat’s cheese is very much an acquired taste, but if you do enjoy it then it is best to combine it with a white wine that complements its flavour. Ideally you should aim to purchase a cheese made in France, as they are typically a little harder and not quite as fresh tasting as those made in the United States. This means that the flavour meshes well with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
A particularly good choice is any Sauvignon Blanc that comes from Loire Valley, as that is where the wine originated. Furthermore, a lot of goat’s cheeses are made in the same region, so it is perhaps unsurprising that they go together so well. The cheese has a chalk-esque texture that ages into a nice, spiced flavour that combines perfectly with the wine. It is also a great cheese to try with a number of other white wines as well.
Prosecco and Asiago
Prosecco has long been a favourite for Italians who want something that will offer a nice, light refreshment after a stressful day. As such, it has become the drink of choice for people looking to enjoy a nice aperitif before they settle down to have a full meal later on in the day.
If you are a Prosecco fan, you would do well to consider combining it with a slightly aged Asiago cheese. The fruitiness in the wine goes extremely well with the interesting textures of the cheese, which may come as a surprise to people who have only ever tried to combine it with milder cheeses. This is a combination that definitely comes recommended and makes for an excellent snack after a busy day at work.
Chardonnay and Triple Cream Cheese
Chardonnay is famous for having a nice, complex bouquet that incorporates both floral signatures and fruity smells. As such, they have become extremely popular internationally as well as in their native country. They also combine well with more pungent cheeses, as the fruity flavours take some of the edge off the sharpness of the cheese.
A nice triple cream cheese like Brie or Tomme mixes perfectly with a Chardonnay, again creating a wonderful appetiser that is sure to have your guests talking long after the meal is concluded. Try experimenting a little here though, as Chardonnay goes well with a number of stronger or aged cheeses because it does such a good job of taking the edge off the flavouring.
Port and Stilton
It can be a little more difficult to find a good pairing for dessert that offers a level of sweetness without being overpowered by the flavours that you have experienced during the main course. However, a nice, vintage Port can offer that sweetness, but it is important to temper that a little with a nice, strong cheese.
Try mixing a good port with some Stilton to create a perfect contrast of flavours that actually combine to complement each other exceptionally well. Make sure that you age the Port a little beforehand though, as this is when it starts to develop the sweetness that makes it a perfect dessert wine.
Above All – Experiment
Of course, all of the combinations we have suggested should only be tried if the individual wines and flavours match your personal tastes. One of the many joys of pairing wines with cheeses is that there are so many different choices for both that you can spend plenty of time simply experimenting to find out which ones match your own tastes.
Try buying a variety of different cheeses and serving them alongside a number of different wines at your next dinner party. You may well find a combination that you never expected to go well together, giving you even more scope to explore a little further and find out exactly how well the combination fares when placed under more scrutiny.