Pairing Wine With Cheese | A Perfect Night In

Harry Lambourne
22nd September 2023

Wine and Cheese. Cheese and Wine. What could be better than a perfect combination of these two sumptuous treats? However, pairing wine with cheese isn’t always straightforward.

If you don’t get things right, then you could really have an adverse effect on your own tastebuds! The wine could drown out the flavour of the cheese, or the cheese could make the wine seem horribly bitter. You need to strike a balance and that’s what this article is for.

We will take you through the task of pairing wine with cheese and give you some top tips to guarantee success next time you decide to have a cheese and wine night. Let’s get pairing!

Cheese board
Cheese & Wine – Here We Come!

Pairing Wine With Cheese – How Does Food Affect Wine?

Before we start diving into the world of specifically pairing wine with cheese we should take a broader look at pairing wine with, well anything! The food you are consuming will have an impact on the taste of the wine you are drinking. Cheese is no different. Wine tasting and wine pairing isn’t always straightforward and simple. Though, it is always fun.

So, we’ll take a quick look at some of the different components of ‘taste’ and see how they will impact your vino.

First things first – salt. Salt is so often the foundation of cooking and flavour in general. If something doesn’t taste right, it could be down to a lack of salt. Salt also has a profound affect on wine. It is a wine-friendly component of food and has the benefit of decreasing bitterness and accentuating the fruity characteristics of a wine.

Acidity is another key consideration. Cheese isn’t especially acidic, when compared to things like citrus fruit. However, it isn’t completely devoid of acid and some harder cheeses, (such as Parmesan), can have a high acid content. You should also be aware of fruits in cheese. If a cheese has small red currants or berries, then this can increase the acid content.

Acidity is generally a good thing for a wine pairing. It can help to balance out high acid wines and enhance the fruitiness of the wine. The crucial point is that the wine must be equivalent to, or higher in acid than the food with which it is paired.

Generally, wines will have a far higher acid than cheese so this shouldn’t worry you too much. However, if you’re looking to pair a Gewürztraminer with a cheese packed with tart red fruits, then you may get a bit of a shock. Acidity shouldn’t be completely ignored when pairing wine with cheese.

The last consideration which is particularly important for pairing wine with cheese is fat content. Cheese is fatty. That’s probably why it tastes so good! Generally, acidic wines will pair well with fatty foods. They can cut through the richness of the food and cleanse the palate.

This is why sparkling wine is great for brunch when you’re pairing it with a full English! Not only that, but sparkling wine can work well for fatty, creamy cheese like camembert or brie.

Now you have a bit of background as to how the food can affect your wine, we will take a look at some important things to consider when pairing wine with cheese.

Pairing Wine With Cheese – Match Flavour Intensity

This is perhaps the most straightforward aspect of pairing wine with cheese. We mentioned that wine can drown out cheese, but equally cheese can drown out wine. If you have a big and bold Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux, then you likely don’t want to pair it with a mild cheese such as brie. On the flip-side, a unbelievably light Beaujolais Nouveau would get knocked out by an extra mature cheddar.

Pairing Wine With Cheese – Match Stink With Sweet

Amount Of Sugar In Wine
Match Stink With Sweet

The ‘stink factor’ needs to be discussed when pairing wine with cheese. Cheeses can smell. This won’t necessarily be a subtle smell either, it can be a real stink. However, these cheeses are frequently some people’s favourite cheeses.

If they are, then look for wines with a good chunk of residual sugar. High sugar content obviously provides wines with a sweeter taste and smell which can stand up to the stink and really help to accentuate the creamy consistency of these cheese that sits behind the pungent smell.

This could be PX Sherry or Port. True dessert wines which syrupy consistency. Or, it could just be wines with a slightly off-dry character.

Some great options are Californian Zinfandel, Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, or Grand Cru offerings of Pinot Gris from Alsace. All of these are well-known for producing high-quality wines with an off-dry character.

Pairing Wine With Cheese – Match The Regions

This idea is not just a great way to theme a wine and cheese night. Regional wine pairings are often desirable. If people have been producing a style of wine and a certain bit of produce for centuries in a particular region and they choose to mix the two together, then they’re likely doing it with good reason! Try Piedmontese Truffles alongside Barolo and tell me they weren’t made for each other.

Truffle Market in Piedmont
Truffle Market in Piedmont

Some other great examples of this include Munster and Alsace Riesling, or Manchego cheese with a delicious Tempranillo, (not necessarily from Rioja) and of course the creamy Epoisses with a bottle of bold red Burgundy.

That’s our quick guide on pairing wine with cheese. We hope we’ve given you some insight into what makes a perfect wine and cheese pairing. If you’re planning a cheese and wine night in the near future, then remember these tips and you won’t go wrong!

Don’t forget to check out our selection of cheese knives as well. They’ll add that wow factor to any cheese and wine night. You can browse them all here.

If you want to treat yourself, or someone else in your life, don’t forget to check out our Monthly Wine Subscription and Gift Wine Subscription products. Each month you’ll receive hand-picked wines from small, independent family winemakers who focus on organicbiodynamic and sustainable viticulture. Learn more here:

If you’d simply just like to learn more about wine from the comfort of your own home, be sure to check out our online blog and sign up to our mailing list. We’re always looking to teach people about different regions, grape varieties and producers. Beyond that, you can expect to find a whole host of playlists, cocktail cards and recipe cards packed full of wine pairing ideas. There might even be some special offers along the way so make sure that you don’t miss out!

Sign Up To Our Mailing List

Never miss out on great content or special offers again!

Join our mailing list to get exclusive access to our weekly wine offers

20 mixed cases of wine a week on sale at cellar door prices