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Perfect wine and cheese pairing ideas

  • by Mikela Dennison

It's National Cheese Lovers' Day on January 20th. Being the cheese and wine lovers that we are, we're here to help you get prepped with everything you need to know about achieving the perfect wine and cheese pairings.

Whether you are planning a quiet night at home, or a more lavish get-together and you're on platter duty, we're here to help you nail the perfect wine and cheese pairing for the occasion.

There are some things in life that simply go well together:

Sauv and seafood, coffee and chocolate, beaches and barbecues, fishing and beer, and of course - wine and cheese.

Seriously, who doesn't love going around to a friend's house and they serve up a delicious platter to go with the wine. Laden with yummy cheeses, seasonal fruits, a good pate, and some fresh baguette, what's better than that?

But do you know why wine and cheese are such natural pairing partners?

It all comes down to flavour.

Cheese, being typically quite high in fat, coats your mouth when you eat it. A well paired wine, with vibrant acid and a touch of sweetness from the ripeness of the fruit, cuts through those creamy, fatty elements left by the cheese, ultimately creating an even fuller flavour and feeling in your mouth. 

So whether you’re throwing a small get-together for a few close friends or you're planning a lavish dinner party, a carefully thought-out cheese platter is an instant crowd pleaser and it can also be a great way to complement your wine.

Fun fact about cheese and wine pairing

Traditional wisdom says that cheese is best paired with red wine - but do you know why that is?

In Europe, cheese is often served after the main meal, and so you would enjoy the cheese with the leftover red wine from dinner. The tannins and oak elements of the red wine are enhanced by the cheese, becoming even bigger and bolder. 

But today, you can go wild with your cheese and wine pairings!

From crisp Sauv and a bright and fresh goats' cheese, to Chardonnay and Camembert, the delicious possibilities truly are endless. So let's dive right in! 

Easy tips for matching cheese and wine 

There are a few general rules of thumb to bear in mind when preparing a perfect cheese platter to go with your wine:

  • Consider the texture, acidity and fat of the cheese. You don’t want the cheese to overpower the wine. Remember, just like with real-life relationships, opposites can often attract
  • Generally speaking, red wines go better with older, richer cheeses, as the tannins in the wine cleanse the palate
  • Sweet wines go best with saltier cheeses, as the salt in the cheese really brings out the sweetness in the wine. We love blue cheese served with a small sipping glass of our te Pa Noble Sauvignon Blanc.
  • A cheese platter should have a selection of around 3-5 cheeses and it’s also a good idea to add some nuts and seasonal fruit to the platter, as they bring out the fruity flavours of the wine. Think figs and persimmon in autumn, juicy strawberries or plums in summer, crunchy apple in spring, or fragrant slices of pear in winter. 
  • Go bold! Adding edible flowers to a cheese platter can take it to a whole new level, so let your creative side come out with some quirky additions that are sure to wow your guests. 

So - which wine pairs best with which cheese?

Sauvignon Blanc - A great go-to is Goats cheese (we love Cranky Goat cheese, which is produced right here in Marlborough). Other cheeses such as Asiago, Gouda, and Gruyere also go well with a good Sauv.

Chardonnay - Chardonnay is perhaps one of the most cheese-friendly wine styles, being that it has high acidity, and a rich texture.

For a big, oaked Chardonnay (like our te Pa Chard or our te Pa Reserve), go for either a blue cheese or a washed rind cheese. These will both stand up nicely to the bold, oaked flavours of the wine.

For a lighter, fruiter style Chardonnay like our Pa Road Chardonnay, try a slightly nutty, sweet cheese to enhance the crisper characteristics of the Chardonnay. Camembert and brie, with their rich, creamy flavour and luxurious texture are another great choice for Chardonnay, which boasts its own rich, buttery profile. 

Pinot Gris – Because of its high acidity, Pinot Gris is a great wine to cleanse the palate. Try a Muenster, Gouda, Edam or Ricotta (we love the fresh Italian cheeses that Viavio over in Nelson make). Conveniently, we've got an award-winning Pinot Gris, and it's a stunner with cheese! 

Pinot Noir – Earthy and fruity, Pinot Noir traditionally has a high level of acidity and a low level of tannins. Try pairing it with Gouda, Feta, Swiss, and Port Salut. With its savoury notes and rich berry flavours, our Pinot Noir is the perfect match for these fragrant cheeses. 

Rosé – Dry and fruity, Rosé is best served with full-flavoured cheeses such as Chipotle, Colby Jack or even a young chèvre such as Goat’s cheese.

Most importantly: have fun with your pairings!

It’s also important to remember that there are no clear-cut rules when it comes to food and wine matching. The most important thing is to experiment, try new and interesting combinations and find out what you enjoy most. Ultimately, the best way to tell is to try the cheeses and see what you think goes best together!

So, will you be having a cheeky cheese and wine platter to celebrate National Cheese Lovers' Day? We sure will be! 

As long as there is good wine and good company, your guests are bound to have a good time. Get in touch if you want help designing the perfect cheese platter and wine match, as we are always happy to help!

If you're ready to start building your wine and cheese extravaganza, we welcome you to come and explore our range of wines by clicking here.

Tagged with: wine and food

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