With Christmas approaching, now is the time to start preparing your Christmas party snacks, and of course, that involves wine pairings.
But what exactly is a wine pairing? Which cheeses go best on a cheese board? And which wine pairs best with which cheese?
If you’re unsure, don’t worry - we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for our guide to wine and cheese boards.
What Is A Wine Pairing?
People have been pairing wine with food throughout history - and contrary to popular belief, it’s nothing to be scared of. It can be a fun experience experimenting with different foods and wines, and cheese is no exception.
Wine pairing is essentially finding the perfect wine for a particular dish. Wine should complement the flavours of a dish rather than dominate them.
There are no set in stone rules when it comes to wine and food pairing, but there are some guidelines that you can follow in terms of meat - for example, red meat usually pairs best with red wines, and choose lighter wines for lighter foods.
Wine Pairings for Cheeses
Now you understand what a wine pairing is, it’s time to learn how you can pair the cheeses on your cheese board with wine.
Cheese and wine go hand in hand, and both are synonymous with Christmas - so cheese wine pairings are perfect for the Christmas period.
Hard cheeses such as cheddar, Manchego, Comte and Parmigiano-Reggiano are pretty easy to pair with wine. In fact, they’re probably the easiest of all the types of cheese to pair with wine.
The rich and nutty flavours of hard cheese pair well with full and strong red wines - hard cheese will overpower lighter wines.
Syrah is always a great go-to pairing with hard cheese. You can also pair full-bodied red wines with dishes that feature parmesan, not just hard cheese on a cheeseboard.
Cabernet Sauvignon can also pair well with hard cheeses, and some people prefer to pair Chardonnay with cheddar cheese.
If you’re pairing with hard sheep cheese, know that they have a long aftertaste so need a wine that can stand up to that. Full and oaky whites can make a great pairing, for example, Australian Chardonnay.
Blue cheese (bleu cheese) is exactly what you’d expect - cheese with patches of blue. The blue is actually the mould Penicillium - but this is perfectly okay to consume. In fact, blue cheese is full of nutrients and has high amounts of calcium compared to other cheeses.
If you’re a fan of blue cheese, then you’re probably familiar with Stilton, Gorgonzola, and Roquefort. They’re strong, creamy, and pretty smelly - so they’ll need powerful wines to match their complex flavours.
You may be tempted to pair blue cheese with a Bordeaux, but this might not be the ideal wine pairing. However, a rich and fruity Port or a dry Colheita may pose a better match.
Choose a dark wine full of tannins that can stand up to the rich flavours of blue cheese. Wines from the south of France such as Madiran or Corbieres typically make a great pairing.
No cheese board is complete without a selection of soft cheeses, whether it be a semi-soft camembert or a spreadable Philadelphia.
These can pair well with a fruity Pinot Noir, but if you prefer something lighter, then you’ll be glad to know that Rosé can make a great soft cheese wine pairing.
Light and fruity reds pair well with runny French cheeses - the ammonic aromas of Brie and Camembert can taste great with Saumur Champigny wines.
Not just any wine can pair well with goats cheese. When you think of wine pairings for cheese, you may just assume that reds are your best bet - however, with mature goat cheese, a crisp and dry white wine can make a great pairing.
Dry wines can cut through the nuanced flavours of goats cheese, whereas not all red wines can stand up to it.
A New World Chardonnay can also balance the acidity of goat's cheese. Try experimenting with different wines and see what works well for you.
White wine can also pair well with fresh goat cheese - however, choose more of an off-dry white for some complementary flavours.
Sauvignon Blanc is always a great go-to for goat's cheese. Fresh goat cheeses can also pair well with a light red (e.g a Saumur Champigny) or a full-bodied Rosé to balance the fresh goat's cheese creaminess.
Melted cheese isn’t really a type of cheese, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t add it to your cheeseboard and find the perfect wine to pair with it.
Whether you have a fondue or a raclette on your cheeseboard, you can find the perfect wine pairing.
The best wine to pair with melted cheese is a crisp white or an aromatic white. Wine almost always pairs well with the local dishes of the area in which the wine is made - so choose a white wine from where melted cheese dishes are popular.
Extras for Your Cheese Board
Cheese boards don’t have to contain just cheese - you can place all sorts on your cheese board alongside your favourite cheeses, whether it be strawberries, sweets, meats, or olives.
If you add red berries to your cheese board such as strawberries, then you may want to pair them with a classic Pinot Noir.
Olives can also taste great with a cheese board - particularly Castelvetrano olives, pairing perfectly with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
If you want to add any meats such as pepperoni to your cheese board, then you can pair it with a rich Syrah - or any other rich and fruity wine with moderate acidity.
If you’re adding something sweet to your cheeseboard such as chocolate, then why not pair it with Champagne or Prosecco. For candied nuts, try pairing it with Riesling and other semi-sweet wines. Cookies pair well with Syrah or even Cabernet Sauvignon.
Whatever you add to your cheeseboard, consider the wine pairing options for the ultimate wine and cheese experience.
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