Wine + Cheese = A Match Made in Heaven

If you Google "wine and cheese pairings", you'll get a million different recommendations. While there's some science behind food and wine pairings, the best cheese pairings are harder to pinpoint because God invented cheese to go with wine. Not to get all religious on you, but it is a little known fact that on the 8th day He said, "Let the two-legged ones eat cheese with their fermented grape juice." And it's been that way forevermore. (I went to Catholic school so you can consider me a source on this.) Jokes aside, pairing wine and cheese is a true art form because there are a plethora of "right" answers and everyone has their own favorites for very good reasons.

Goat, Asiago, Gouda, and Gorgonzola with a white Languedoc blend.

The Science They Didn't Teach You in School

In order to find your favorite wine and cheese combos, it's helpful to understand why these two fit so well together. In the case of red wine, we can thank tanninfat, and protein for setting the joy in motion. Tannins are astringent, polyphenolic biomolecules that bind to and precipitate proteins, like those found in your mouth. Basically they act like ice-scrappers on your tongue, cheeks, and gums.
Related: The difference between "dry" and tannin.
Fat and protein are substances we are all familiar with and can easily pick out in foods, including cheese, which is made up of these plus things like calcium. When you eat a piece of cheese, the inside of your mouth is covered in its fats and proteins—providing new material for wine tannin to scrap off your tongue. As the tannin attaches to the yummy bits, you are left with the flavor of wine on a fresh tongue with its surface intact.

On the other hand, white wine does not have tannin (or when it does, it is very little) but its refreshing acidity also nicely washes away the proteins and fats leftover from cheese.
TIP: Building a cheese board doesn't have to be overwhelming. Just pick one from each of these categories: sharp, nutty, funky, and creamy.

It's Really More of an Art

Because all cheeses have fat and protein, there are very few bad pairings. That said, there are pairings that are better than others. Most of the mind-blowing combos are based on a few rules:
  1. Remember "if it grows together, it goes together." Farmers and winemakers have been making cheese and wine side-by-side for hundreds of years—you can trust them.
  2. Match intensity with equal intensity. If you have a big, bold red, match it with something equally flavorful. On the reverse, don't pair a delicate white with an overwhelming cheese.
  3. Pair sweet and stinky. It sounds weird (because it is) but sugary wines pair best with funky cheeses.
If you follow those tips, the pairings are endless! From here, it's trial and error, but I'm betting you're up to the challenge.

My Favorite Wine and Cheese Pairings

There are so many diverse opinions on the best pairings, but since you're here, I thought I should share my personal favorites:
I also recommend:
  • Cabernet Sauvignon and Cheddar
  • Merlot and Gouda
  • Pinot Noir and Comté
  • Sauvignon Blanc and Feta
  • Riesling and Munster
  • Chardonnay and Gruyere
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