For centuries, wine and cheese have been consumed together as a pair. Whether it’s during specific tasting events, or served at parties and get togethers, pairing wine and cheese is common practice that have been so ingrained in society that many don’t give it a second thought.
There is actually a rich history and science behind why these two items go so well together. As this way of enjoying wine with cheese has been around for a very long time, sommeliers and food scientists alike have had plenty of time to perfect the perfect formula for pairing.
Learn more about this longstanding tradition and how you can hold your own wine and cheese party.
What is the history behind wine and cheese pairings?
It’s difficult to pinpoint where and when the first wine and cheese were served together. However, historical records have indicated that in the past, people in one region normally pair wine and cheese from their part of the world together.
British sellers are also to thank for the wine wine and cheese are paired. It’s been said that they would repeat certain adages in the market in order to sell their wines.
One popular saying was, “Buy on apple, sell on cheese.” This means that a wine that goes well with acidic apples would most probably go well with any type of cheese.
Related Article: Tips for the Perfect Food and Wine Pairing
The science of wine and cheese pairings
Similar to pairing wine with different dishes, matching wine and cheese follows the same principles.
The rule of thumb is to pair red wine with heavy proteins like meat. Meanwhile, white wine is best served with lighter protein like chicken or seafood. In the same way, heavy, fuller-bodied wines are often best paired with a strong cheese.
However, the science is not as straightforward as it seems. It involves such a complex combination of tastes. From levels of sugar, salt, fat, tannins, acid, and spice, there are many aspects to consider.
Researchers have long tried to identify the exact science of pairing the right cheese with the right wine, but the tasting experience is dynamic and affected by many factors.
For example, the palate is affected by the first pair you taste as you move on to the next one, so how are you sure you’re truly enjoying the full breadth of each item?
One research conducted by writers in the Journal of Food Science concluded that each cheese had an effect on the wine’s dominant tastes. It’s important to note what these tastes are in your wine, in order to choose the right cheese to match.
Related Article: 6 Recommended Wine and Chocolate Pairings
Basic pairing tips
Despite the complexities of it all, there are several basics you can take note of.
1. Pair wine and cheese from the same region
Historically, this was how it started. You can’t go wrong with what has been proven to work well for generations!
Examples of pairings from the same region:
- Garnacha wine with Manchego cheese from Spain
- Sauvignon Blanc and goat cheese from France
2. Pair wine and cheese that are equal in intensity
As the aforementioned study has shown that the cheese brings out the dominant tastes in the wine, it’s good to pair a wine and cheese that are somewhat equally intense.
This is especially useful when you really want to savour the wine. But what is meant by intensity?
When considering intensity, it’s good practice to pay attention to the ABV content in the wine:
- Wines with 12% ABV or less are lower in intensity
- Wines with 14.5% ABV or more are higher in intensity
3. Pair sparkling wines with creamier cheeses
As with any rich, heavy dish, you’d want something light to balance it out. Creamy, soft cheeses such as Camembert, Brie, or Muenster, will go well with sparkling wines as these drinks are carbonated and high in acidity.
These qualities in the wine alleviate some of the richness of the cheese. Its lightness cleanses the palate.
4. Pair sweet wines with stinky cheeses
Cheeses that are blue-veined or washed-rind are normally stinkier than other cheeses. These have an effect on the palate as well as the note. They might be a little on the sharp end, and need a good sweet wine to balance it out.
The sweetness in wines such as port or Moscato makes these kinds of cheeses taste a little creamier, and a lot more palatable.
Related Article: 7 Unconventional Wine & Food Pairings that Surprise You
Pairings you should try
Now that you’re aware of the basics, it’s time to try out this practice for yourself. When in doubt, here are three classic wine and cheese pairings are fail-proof.
Champagne with Brie
Both of these items hail from France, so you know they will most probably work well together.
Brie is creamy, while champagne is sparkling and acidic. The drink will help reduce the richness, as acidity will simmer down the fat in the cheese.
This pair creates contrasting tastes and sensations in the mouth, combining the creaminess of the cheese with fizziness of the champagne.
Champagne available at minuman.com:
Cabernet Sauvignon and aged cheddar
Cheddar is one of the sharper tasting cheeses out there. Like the Brie, it also contains a lot of fat. The heavy tannins in a Cabernet Sauvignon will pair perfectly with it.
Remember the tip about intensity? Most Cabernet Sauvignon has an ABV of above 13.5%, making it a high alcohol, high intensity wine. The intensity of cheddar will complement the wine perfectly.
Cabernet Sauvignon available at minuman.com:
Malbec and Edam
Malbec is known for its fruitiness, while Edam is notoriously nutty. These two qualities match well, as both flavors and aromas complement each other.
Malbec available at minuman.com: