Friday, May 18, 2012

How-To: Pair Wine & Cheese

In many ways, wine and cheese are the easiest and most common pairing, seen at cocktail parties everywhere. There are no hard and fast rules of finding cheese and wine that go well together, but the simplest guideline is to try to pair "like with like".

Weight: Cheese is always rich and fatty, but the levels vary depending on the type of cheese. A fresh goat cheese will work much better with a light-bodied wine, while a dense aged cheddar will pair better with a heavier wine.

Flavor: There is a little more flexibility here, as sometimes contrasting flavors can add to the pairing, but usually similar flavors work best together. A sweet and funky blue cheese will work well with an aged dessert wine, while a grassy Swiss cheese works well with a crisp and mineral-y white wine.

Region: Especially with French and Italian wines, there is a long history of the parallel development of wine and cheese. The terrior of the vineyards and the grasslands that feed the cattle are similar and therefore impart similar flavors. A Chianti may work best with some Provolone, while Rioja pairs well with Asiago.

The best way to figure out the pairings you like is to experiment--and have fun! There is definitely no right and wrong in pairing, but there is "better paired" and "not as well-paired."

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