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BF 101: In the Kitchen

BF 101: Wine & Cheese Pairings

Charcuterie plate with wine

Cheese and wine are a true match-made-in-heaven! This delicious duo is a popular pairing across countless cultures, proving just how reliable and consistent it is. However, not all wines are meant for all cheeses. Whether you’re building a full charcuterie platter or a simple spread, this handy guide has everything you need to create some perfect pairings for your next wine and cheese night at home!

Semi-Soft Cheese

Semi-soft cheeses like Gruyere, Gouda, Havarti, and Provolone can be eaten on their own, used in sandwiches, or cooked into warm dishes. Though they’re soft, these cheeses still have density and structure, giving them the best of both worlds when it comes to texture. With a few exceptions, semi-soft varieties tend to have a more mild taste.

Wine Pairing:

White wines that have a subtle oakiness like Chardonnay and Pinot Gris complement the nuttiness found in many semi-soft cheeses. However, if you prefer red wine, avoid oaky varieties and stick with more rustic wines like Chianti and Côtes du Rhône. 

cheese, grapes and other snacks on a cutting board

Hard Cheese

Parmesan, Pecorino, Cheddar, and Manchego are all examples of hard cheeses. These popular cheeses are known for having a dense texture and complex yet savory flavor. From snacking to grating over some pasta, hard cheeses are a necessity at any dinner table. 

Wine Pairing:

Bubbles and bold reds are best enjoyed with hard cheeses. These complex varieties deserve equally complex vino to match. Bordeaux blends and Sangiovese are some great options, as is Amontillado sherry. 

Washed-Rind Cheese

Washed-rind cheeses are best described as those with a moistened rind. The process of being washed with brine leads to the growth of specific bacteria, resulting in distinct and pungent flavors. Examples of washed-rind cheeses include funky fontina and Reblochon, which is made from raw milk. 

Wine Pairing:

When it comes to white wine, there are several pairing options for this kind of cheese. Dry sparkling wines and unoaked white wines like Chenin Blanc are refreshing without being overpowering. If you prefer more structure to tame the pungent nature of washed-rind cheeses, go for a Reisling. Pinot Noir is a great alternative for those that exclusively drink red wine. 

Fresh Cheese

Cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta, and feta are all made from fresh curds that haven’t been aged. Other examples of fresh cheeses include burrata and Chèvre (goat cheese). Since these cheeses all range in taste, there are several different pairing options to explore. 

Wine Pairing:

Saltier and tangier cheeses like feta and goat cheese are best enjoyed with slightly sweeter, off-dry wines like Riesling or Gewürztraminer. Mild cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta pair nicely with whites like Albariño and Sauvignon Blanc, and reds such as Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Zweigelt.

cheese block with cutter and jam

Blue Cheese

From Gorgonzola to Roquefort, blue cheese is best known for its pungent funkiness in taste and smell. Blue cheeses are typically crumbly and salty, making them great on top of salads or cooked into rich and creamy sauces. 

Wine Pairing:

Since most blue cheeses are so innately sharp and savory, sweeter wines and dessert vintages provide a nice balance. While there are plenty of sweet white wines to choose from, Ports are a great option for those that are partial to drinking reds. 

Bloomy Cheese

Brie is the most popular kind of bloomy cheese. Its creamy interior is covered by a soft and fluffy rind that is entirely edible. Camembert is another favorite that has a slightly stronger flavor and scent than brie. These cheeses are ideal for spreading across some grilled bread or mild fruits like apples and pairs. 

Wine Pairing:

Bloomy cheeses are able to pair with both white and red, depending on your preference. Dry and light-bodied whites like Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre complement the earthy tones of bloomy cheese. However, Champagne or traditional sparkling wines are also wonderful if you prefer more texture. For red wines, stick with dry, light-bodied varieties like Gamay, Pinot Noir, or a chilled Cabernet Franc. 

BF 101 In the Kitchen Cheese