The Hippo


Jul 23, 2019








Cheese with your wine?
Finding the perfect pairings

By Stefanie Phillips

Wine and cheese are a common pairing, but knowing which pair best together can be tricky. I have stood at a cheese counter on more than one occasion and admired the selection, wondering which would taste best with my preferred wine. If you have a bottle of wine or some cheese and are looking for an accompaniment, here are some ideas with some help from the Wine Monger. These pairings can also offer some guidance when selecting wine and entrée pairings. Some ingredients will alter them slightly, but use these as a starting point.
It’s important to mention that cheese can coat the palate, so it’s helpful to have crackers on hand to help cleanse it. Cheese and crackers go well together anyway and offer a little substance, so keep this in mind when you are at the store. This is also the reason why many wineries offer crackers during their tastings. The palate can easily become overwhelmed, and the crackers help offset this.

White wines
Pinot grigio (also known as pinot gris) is a common white wine originating from Italy and France, depending upon the name. Since it originated in Italy, it makes sense that it pairs well with Asiago fresco, an Italian cow’s milk cheese. It has a creamy texture and a delicate aroma, offset by the acidity of the wine. Ricotta, also an Italian cheese made from sheep, cow or goat milk, is another suggested pairing. Many of us think it is only used in lasagna, but the Italian version is slightly sweeter and creamier, perfect for pairing with toast. 
Chardonnay can be oaky and buttery if oak barrel aged (common for California wines), while Italian versions are typically aged in steel and more acidic. Enjoy it with a variety of cheeses, including brie, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Parmigiano-Reggiano and provolone. 
Riesling is typically thought of as a German wine, but versions are made around the world. Many versions tend to be on the sweeter side, but some can also be dry. Pair it with Colby, Monterey Jack and one of my favorites, Gouda. Gouda’s flavor can vary based on its age, so choose accordingly. 
The Wine Monger recommends pairing sauvignon blanc with goat cheese, but suggests these other cheeses as well: sharp cheddar, brie, Gruyere and Neufchatel. Sauvignon blanc can be herbaceous and acidic. As a grape that originated in France, it makes sense that it would pair well with French cheeses. 
Sparkling wines like Champagne and prosecco go well with baby Swiss, mild cheddar, chevre, brie and gouda. These wines are lighter, hence their pairings. 

Red wines
Cabernet sauvignon is a commonly consumed red wine and one of the more full-bodied reds. It pairs well with sharp cheddar, aged Gouda and French cheeses like chalosse and le moulis.
Merlot, and blends made with merlot, will go well with Gouda, Gruyere and robiola, an Italian soft-ripened cheese. 
Sangiovese, also known as chianti, is an Italian wine so it makes sense to pair it with Italian cheeses like asiago, mozzarella, parmigiano-reggiano, piave, pecorino and ricotta. It can also be paired with fontina. 
Tempranillo is a Spanish grape now grown in other places like South America. It tends to be tannic and on the drier side. It pairs well with sharp cheddar and havarti. It also pairs naturally with Spanish cheeses like manchego and serena. 
Other wines
Dessert wines pair well with bleu cheese, crème fraiche and mascarpone, which are common dessert ingredients. 
Port wines are a natural pairing for sharp cheddar and Gorgonzola. 
If you still aren’t sure, the Wine Monger recommends pairing the wine with a cheese that comes from the same region. This is a good rule of thumb, as the cuisine and wine usually go hand in hand. For a full list of recommendations, visit and search for “cheese pairing guide.” 
A wine and cheese tasting party is a fun way to try new and different pairings. Invite a few friends over and sample a variety of wines and cheeses. Many gourmet food shops, like Angela’s Pasta and Cheese in Manchester and Wellington’s Marketplace in Concord, can recommend some choices to suit your tastes. You may come up with a few new pairings of your own that you like better than any on this list. And remember, these are just guidelines. Make choices based on your own tastes.  

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