Which Wines to Choose for Cheese

By on July 18th, 2022 in Blog
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There are two basic rules when it comes to pairing wine with cheese: Red goes with hard cheese and white goes with soft. Rennet is a type of fat used in soft cheese-making. It clashes horribly with tannin, which all red wines contain. Tannin is felt as that drying sensation that clings to your teeth and gums. It is also present in tea, most obviously when drunk black. To avoid tannin, stick with white wines. Hard cheeses, on the other hand, are often quite salty and contain calcium and sodium. This helps soften and calm the effects of tannin. So with tannic wines, salty foods, like hard cheeses, are best. Below we’ve chosen four wines which provide a little more interest than just proving these two rules (as well as breaking them). They may be outside certain comfort zones, but great riches await those with a more adventurous mindset…

cheese and wine

The Versatile One

We start with a wine that always divides opinion. Sherry. Many only know the drink as something their grandparents would have enjoyed, making it desperately uncool. Additionally, lots of people would open a bottle and keep it for weeks. It may be fortified, but it will still go bad (5-7 days open is its limit). So let’s explore a slightly more approachable style. Bodegas Gutiérrez Colosia Amontillado is a lighter fresher style than many. Amontillado is a type of sherry that has been blended from both biologically aged and oxidatively aged wines. This means that while it still has that super dry, savoury nuttiness you get in Fino or Manzanilla, it’s also got loads of delicious dried fruit flavours and just a hint of sweetness – though it is still technically a dry wine. And what cheese can you pair with dried fruit and nut flavours? Well… All of them!

Bodegas Gutiérrez Colosia Amontillado wine and cheese

The Rule-Breaking One

As mentioned, tannin and rennet are not friends. They pull in different directions and leave an unpleasant taste and feeling in the mouth. But while all red wines have tannin, some have such smooth and low levels, you can break a few rules with them. Manos Negras Pinot Noir is from Patagonia in Argentina and represents many of the best aspects of winemaking in this beautiful region. It’s light, perfumed, and floral with lovely red berry fruit flavours. It has refreshing acid balance, and like the best Pinots from Patagonia, has super fine low tannins. This means that it’s a red that you can treat a bit like a white. Chill it on a sunny day and glug it down with some stinky camembert. A world of excellent soft cheese pairings awaits. But it’s also delicious with hard cheeses, served cold or at room temperature. A true cheese-pairing winner, every time.

Manos Negras Pinot Noir cheese and wine

The Sweet One

Next, a wine that represents premium Australian sweet wines magnificently. Campbells Of Rutherglen has been making ‘stickies’ for pretty much as long as anyone has. And their Classic Rutherglen Muscat is an absolute ‘beaut’, to use the local parlance. It’s packed with flavours of tinned peaches, moist fruitcake, honeysuckle, orange blossom, caramel, coffee, prunes and clove. And while it is most certainly super-sweet, it still retains just enough acidity to keep it from being cloying. And like all good sweet wines, it makes an absolute hero out of blue cheese. Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Cambozola. You cannot go wrong. It’s also best friends with stinky cheeses like Stinking Bishop, Epoisses and Brie de Meaux, as their powerful savouriness is cut through and contrasted against the sweet dried-fruitiness of the wine. We think this reasonably proves that a bit like puppies, sweet wines aren’t just for Christmas.

Campbells Of Rutherglen Classic Rutherglen Muscat

The Classic One

Last but never least we have a classic French white from the more affordable end of Burgundy. Maison Auvigue Mâcon-Villages is one of those wines that makes you believe you’ve been let into a delicious secret few know about. It has ripe fruit flavours of yellow apple, pear and cantaloupe melon. A lovely lemony twang, great acid balance, lots of great texture and a little creaminess. This is your quintessential classic soft cheese pairing. From mild goat’s cheese to buttery Morbier to full-on cheese fondue. This excellent Mâcon-Villages will ensure you and your guests eat way more cheese than is strictly necessary. We honestly couldn’t think of a better way to succumb to the cheese sweats. Overindulgence guaranteed. Yum.

cheese and wine Maison Auvigue Mâcon-Villages