Wine and cheese pair nicely together, of course. There appear to be an infinite number of cheese and wine varieties. Can wine and cheese pairings really be that difficult? Yes, that is sometimes the straightforward response, but it doesn't always have to be! Cheese has its own factors, just as there are various elements in wine, such as acidity, tannins, and body. The good news is that all of these variations lead to simple pairing strategies and a ton of intriguing pairings that will dazzle your visitors and make your taste senses dance.
Cheese Varieties and Intricacies
There are many different varieties, ages, depths, and intricacies in both wine and cheese. The trick is combining these, and while it can often be successful to match like with like, there are many other situations in which opposites can work well. In most situations, pairing is simple and worry-free when flavors and complexity are similar.
Young and energetic wines that are full of fruit, good acidity, and vibrant scents mix particularly well with young and soft cheeses with silky textures and creamy bodies that are typically still full of moisture. For red wines, consider Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, and Red Blends; for white wines, consider Unoaked Chardonnay, Viognier, and Champagne.
Old cheeses that have matured and lost moisture through a process known as "affinage" are bursting with a rich, fatty, and savory flavor. The wines that can withstand their richness and, in many cases, sharpness are those that are ancient, powerful, and rich. This calls for a wine with good tannins, that sticky sensation some wines, especially Cabernets and Syrah, leave on your tongue. These tannins remove fat and protein from the palate, making sharp-aged cheeses that are high in fat and protein the ideal pairing.
Goat cheese and other salty cheeses, such as the numerous blue cheeses, work particularly well with sweet wines because the salt enhances the sweetness. It's well known that Moscato and Sauternes go well with these flavorful powerhouses.