Wednesday, September 16, 2015


The notion that wine and cheese were married in heaven is not borne out by experience. Fine red wines are slaughtered by strong cheeses; only sharp or sweet white wines survive. Principles to remember (despite exceptions): first, the harder the cheese, the more tannin the wine can have; second, the creamier the cheese, the more acidity required in the wine. Cheese is classified by its texture and the nature of its rind, so its appearance is a guide to the type of wine needed to match it. Below are examples. I try to keep a glass of white wine for my cheese

Bloomy rind soft cheeses, pure-white rind if pasteurized, or dotted with red: Brie,
Camembert, Chaource, Bougon (goats milk “Camembert”) Full, dry white burgundy or
Rhône if the cheese is white and immature; powerful and fruity St-Émilion, young Australian
(or Rhône) Shiraz/Syrah or Grenache if it’s mature.
Blue cheeses Roquefort can be wonderful with Sauternes, but don’t extend the idea to other
blues. It is the sweetness of Sauternes, esp old, that complements the saltiness. Stilton and
Port, preferably Tawny, is a classic. Intensely flavoured old Oloroso or Amontillado Sherry,
Madeira, Marsala, and other fortified wines go with most blues.
Fresh, no rind – cream cheese, crème fraîche, mozzarella Light, crisp white – simple
Bordeaux Blanc, Bergerac, English unoaked whites; rosé: Anjou, Rhône; v. light, young, fresh
red: Bordeaux, Bardolino, or Beaujolais.
Hard cheeses, waxed or oiled, often showing marks from cheesecloth – Gruyère family,
Manchego and other Spanish cheeses, Parmesan, Cantal, Comté, old Gouda, Cheddar
and most “traditional” English cheeses Particularly hard to generalize here; Gouda,
Gruyère, some Spanish and a few English cheeses complement fine claret or Cab Sauv and
great Shiraz/Syrah wines. But strong cheeses need less refined wines, preferably local ones.
Sugary, granular old Dutch red Mimolette or Beaufort are gd for finest mature Bordeaux. Also
for Tokaji Aszú. But try white wines, too.
Natural rind (mostly goat’s cheese) with bluish-grey mould (the rind becomes wrinkled when
mature), sometimes dusted with ash – St-Marcellin Sancerre, Valençay, light, fresh Sauv
Bl, Jurançon, Savoie, Soave, Italian Chard, lightly oaked English whites.
Semi-soft cheeses, thickish grey-pink rind – Livarot, Pont l’Evêque, Reblochon, Tomme de
Savoie, St-Nectaire Powerful white Bordeaux, Chard, Alsace Pinot Gr, dryish Ries, southern
Italian and Sicilian whites, aged white Rioja, dry Oloroso Sherry. But the strongest of these
cheeses kills most wines.
Washed-rind soft cheeses, with rather sticky, orange-red rind – Langres, mature Epoisses,
Maroilles, Carré de l’Est, Milleens, Münster Local reds (esp for Burgundy): vigorous
Languedoc, Cahors, Côtes du Frontonnais, Corsican, southern Italian, Sicilian, Bairrada.
Powerful whites: Alsace Gewurz, Muscat.


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