7 Excellent Wine and Cheese Pairings To Try This Week

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Assorted cheeses on a plate with a bottle of wineThe world is full of classic combinations — wine and cheese pairings being among the best known. People all around the globe have enjoyed them together for centuries. 

Along with regional customs, some of what we know about pairing wine with cheese comes from adages dating back to the time of British wine merchants. The saying “buy on apples and sell on cheese” was shared wisdom. Merchants tested wines they thought they might buy against fresh apples — a very tough pairing. If the wine tasted good, even with apples, it was worth buying. When the merchants sold wine, though, they had their buyers taste wines with cheese, an easy pairing. Buyers were more likely to be impressed because wines taste great with cheese.

The principle is still true - cheese and wine are natural friends.

There are a lot of wines and a lot of cheeses out there, which means there are options for every palate. Here, we’ll take a closer look at why wine and cheese work so well together and offer you a few irresistible pairings you’re sure to love.

Why Pair Wine with Cheese

Wine and cheese pairings are proof that opposites attract. Wine is sharp and astringent, while cheese is rich and fatty. Yet magic seems to happen when they come together, and science appears to support it. In one French study, researchers found that cheese increased the fruity aromas of red wines and decreased the dominance of their astringency. It also elevated the flavor of some white wines.  

Something else happens when you put wine and cheese together — the lush fat in cheese coats your mouth. The right wine match can cut through that “film” to create an overall delightful experience you aren’t likely to forget. 

Wine and Cheese Benefits

As it turns out, wine (red, in particular) and cheese may also offer some neuroprotective benefits. One study suggests the combination could potentially protect the brain from age-related memory issues like Alzheimer’s. Other studies have found a link between a glass of wine a day and improvements in memory and brain function. Moderation and a healthy diet tend to be critical factors. 

7 Wine and Cheese Examples to Try

Let’s take a look at a few wine and cheese pairings that are sure to become instant favorites:

1. Cabernet Sauvignon and Aged Cheddar

Aged cheddar is a bold cheese. This classic cheese features a warm, almost toasty depth that becomes more pronounced the longer it ages. While crumbly and salty, it has an almost buttery quality. Such a cheese needs a wine that can stand up to it. One of the best for the task is a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins in the wine cut through the fattiness of the cheese, while the cheese balances the wine’s bitterness and astringency. Both are equally intense, too, so neither drowns the other out. 

2. Pinot Noir and Gruyere

A medium-firm Swiss variety, Gruyere has a delightfully nutty flavor to it. The bright red berry notes (such as raspberry and strawberry) of Pinot Noir pair perfectly with the nuttiness of the cheese. While both are complex and aromatic, they harmonize beautifully rather than trying to overpower each other.  

3. Merlot and Gouda

Traditionally a cow’s milk cheese, gouda is a rich, savory cheese that becomes crumblier as it ages. It also develops tantalizing notes of caramel and butterscotch in the process. The cheese is an excellent partner for Merlot, a wonderfully rich and smooth red wine. Both the wine and the cheese share similar levels of acidity, a trait that makes them an ideal combination. 

4. Champagne and Brie

Brie is a triple-cream cheese with a luxuriously soft texture. It has a mild buttery flavor and a subtle earthiness. It’s a fatty, creamy cheese that demands a partner that can cut through it, and Champagne is a great candidate. The wine’s fruity, acidic, and bubbly characteristics create a satisfying contrast that’s hard to ignore. Not to mention, some Champagnes have toasty brioche notes to them, flavors that pair amazingly well with the cheese.

5. Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese

Despite its slight earthy and tart notes, goat cheese is pretty neutral. Until you pair it with the right wine, that is. The citrus and mineral notes of Sauvignon Blanc bring out the cheese’s more subtle herbal and nutty flavors. The wine takes the cheese to a whole new level and gives you a taste you might never have noticed before. It also doesn’t hurt that the wine’s sharp acidity cuts through the fattiness of the cheese, providing a remarkable taste experience. 

6. Beaujolais and Feta

Feta is a salty cheese typically made from sheep’s milk. It’s buttery, with a bright flavor that starts mild but becomes more robust and peppery the longer it ages. While you could go with a Sauvignon Blanc here, too, Beaujolais also works nicely. This light-bodied red wine has crisp acidity and low tannins, and it features plenty of red fruit notes like raspberry, cranberry, and currant. The lightness of the wine goes well with the rich, salty characteristics of the cheese. It’s refreshing at the same time and won’t overwhelm your palate. 

7. Aged Port and Blue Stilton

If you love cheese, you know there are some pretty funky ones out there. Like many blue- and green-veined cheeses, Blue Stilton is among the funkiest. It’s a high-fat cream-based cheese marked with marbled veins of mold. Stilton is both subtly sweet and very pungent. The only thing that can stand up to a complex cheese like this is an aged port.

A deliciously sweet fortified wine, port is full-bodied and bold. The intense, assertive flavor and aroma of the blue cheese cut through the sweetness of the wine, creating a fabled traditional pair that’s hard to beat. 

How to Pair Wine with Cheese

These are just a few wine and cheese examples to try. If you want to try creating some of your own perfect matches, here are a few tips on how to pair wine with cheese:

  • Pay attention to tannins. Tannic wines work beautifully with rich, aged cheeses. With young cheeses, those same tannins can become overly astringent and give the cheese a metallic or chalky taste. 
  • Pair salty with sweet. A sweet wine brings balance to a salty cheese. Salty blue cheeses, in particular, love sweet wines. Generally speaking, the funkier the cheese, the sweeter the wine. 
  • Consider textures. Creamy, rich cheeses complement the buttery flavors of white wines. Contrasting flavors can work, too. A sharp, sparkling wine can cut through the fattiness of richer cheeses, encouraging you to enjoy more. 

Find Your Perfect Wine and Cheese Pairings

Above all, don’t forget to drink and eat the wines and cheeses you love. Everyone has their own taste preferences. What you enjoy might not work for someone else and vice versa, so don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment. You’ll soon find the wine and cheese pairings you enjoy most.

With an array of wines from all around the world, JJ Buckley Fine Wines has a bottle for every cheese, every meal, and every occasion. Check out our selection to find your next bottle today.