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Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – Red Wine

Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – Red Wine
Keep in mind, these tips are from my own experience, I’m not a party organizer nor am I a sommelier or a turophile (a cheese connoisseur). I just love cheese, wine and spending time with my friends.

Looking for the perfect match? A good wine and a good cheese can enhance the flavours and complexities of each other. Select a wine that complements the flavours in your favourite cheese.

If you have a special bottle, pick a cheese to match.

Don’t know which cheese to buy?

You can bet there’s a wine out there for every cheese. In general, white wine tends to work better with cheese, as the high acidity of the wine breaks down the fat. However, there are red wines that can work well with mature cheeses.

You’ll notice some pairings repeat so you can mix and match with ease for your next party.

There are numerous studies finding the strong flavour of cheese accentuates the dominant flavours in wine. Interestingly, researches show your wine palate becomes more sensitive when combining cheese and wine so you will be able to detect more lovely flavours in the wine.

But in order to get this heightened taste sensation, you need to pair the two right.

Here is my guide to pairing the perfect cheese with your delicious wine with the most popular wines and cheeses pairings!

  • Off-Dry Wines pair well with Spicy Cheeses
  • Light Bodied Wines pair well with Light Cheeses
  • Full Bodied Wines pair well with Heavier Cheeses

Red Wine

Serve “Cellar Temp” (55–68 ºF / 13–20 ºC)
Store open 3–5 days* (in cool, dark place)
Decant for at least 30 minutes

Red Wine pair well with Strong, Aged Cheeses.

Light-Bodied and Fruity Red Wine

Light-bodied red wines are typified by their translucent colour, light tannin, increased acidity, and delicate, floral¬herbal aromas.

Light-bodied red wines are very versatile food wines – they make a perfect match with poultry.

This style is growing in popularity given that it pairs with a wide variety of cuisines.


Beaujolais/Gamay

AKA: Nouveau Beaujolais – Nouveau Beaujolais Rosé – Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc* – Gamay Noir*

Notes: *Gamay Noir – Same grape as that used for Beaujolais but in other areas of France and outside of France it will be identified as Gamay Noir.

You want a bright red wine that will match Feta’s saltiness. Beaujolais (or a light Greek wine) is the answer.

Cheese Pairings:

  • Brie (with rind)
  • Camembert (with rind)
  • Cantal
  • Cheddar (aged)
  • Comté
  • Muenster
  • Raclette
  • Vacherin
  • Vermont Shepherd

Characteristics:

Body Acidity Sweetness Tannins
Nouveau light high dry but juicy fruit medium
typical Beaujolais light high dry but light fruit medium
Villages level medium high dry but fruity medium
Cru Beaujolais medium medium dry medium

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Cabernet Franc

AKA: Cabernet Franc – Chinon (reds) – Bourgueil (reds) – Samur (reds) – Anjou (reds) – Samur-Champigny (reds) – Breton – Bouchet – Gros Bouchet – Cabernet Franc Blauer – Cabernet Franc Crni – Cabernet Franc Nero – Cabernet Franc Noir (France) – Cabernet – Bordo – Cabernet Frank (Italy)

Cheese Pairings:

  • Bloomy cheeses like Brie
  • Camembert
  • mild and medium sharp Cheddar
  • Edam
  • Fontina
  • Glouchester
  • Gouda
  • Blue such as Gorgonzola
  • goat cheese
  • Muenster
  • Provolone (aged)
  • Parmesan
  • Pecorino
  • Port Salut
  • Roncal
  • Swiss

Characteristics:

Body Acidity Sweetness Tannins
cool climate (Loire Valley) medium medium dry medium
warm climate medium medium dry medium

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Pinot Noir

AKA: Red Burgundy* – Noiren – Pineau – Savagnin Noir (France) – Spätburgunder – Blauburgunder (Germany, Austria) – Pi not Nero (Italy)

Notes: *Red Burgundy is made from 100% Pinot Noir grape.

Light to medium bodied and delicate dry red wine, with a slight berry smack with earth undertones balanced by ripe red fruit, this is one of the noblest and the most versatile wines.
It is great with meat, poultry and vegetable dishes. Pinot Noir cheese pairing varies from Brie and Epoisses to Gouda and Gruyère.

Brie needs a wine that will go well with its distinct flavours while remaining light enough not to overwhelm them. Pair with a good glass of Pinot Noir, Brie’s best friend.
Vermont Sharp Cheddar is aged and needs to be paired with a wine that has earthy notes, such as Pinot Noir. The earthiness of a great Pinot complements the classic characteristics of aged cheese.

Pinot Noir is a complex, delicate wine and the lightness of the red wine pairs well with a rich, soft cheese like Camembert. The mushroomy flavour of the wine also goes beautifully with the earthy taste of the cheese.

Pinot Noir is a dry and light to medium-bodied red wine that has these characteristics along with ripe red fruit flavours. It also works well with a nutty cheese with medium firmness, such as Gruyère.

Cheese Pairings:

  • Gouda
  • Gruyère
  • Majorero (Spanish hard goat cheese) Mahon
  • dry Jack cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Gouda
  • Lancashire
  • Neufchâtel
  • Pecorino di Tartufo
  • Pont-L’Eveque
  • Raclette
  • Reblochon
  • Roquefort
  • Saint-Nectare
  • Saint André
  • Swiss
  • Tomme de Savoie
  • Vacherin
  • Vermont sharp cheddar

Characteristics:

Body Acidity Sweetness Tannins
cool climate medium high dry medium
warm climate medium medium dry but slightly fruity medium
Cru Burgundy medium medium dry medium

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Medium-Bodied Red Wine

Not too light nor too heavy, this is the “baby bear” red wine style. There are a wide array of choices (and thus, flavours) in this red wine category. Tannin is moderate, and expect most to have slightly higher acidity.

The aforementioned traits make for a wine that can pair with most foods (but avoid super delicate dishes.) Additionally, many of these wines have the structure to age well.


Chianti/Sangiovese

AKA: Sangiovese – Chianti – Brunello di Montalcino* – Vino Nobile di Montepulciano** – Rosso di Montalcino – Carmignano – Morellino di Scansano – Sangiovese di Romagna – Tignanello – Flaccionello della Pieve – Sangioveto – Brunello – Prugnolo Gentile – Morellino – Nielluccio (Corsica)

Notes:Chianti used to be made from 70% Sangiovese grapes with other red and white grape varietals mandated by law. Now since 1995 it must be 80% Sangiovese grapes and can have up to 100% Sangiovese.
*Brunello di Montalcino is a 100% sangiovese wine from southern Tuscany.

** Vino Nobile is made primarily from the Sangiovese grape varietal (known locally as Prugnolo gentile) (minimum 70%), blended with Canaiolo Nero (10%–20%) and small amounts of other local varieties such as Mammolo.

With smoky hints of plum and cherry, Chianti is a medium-bodied and dry red Italian wine that is and pairs well with Mediterranean flavours such as tomato and the basil.

The classic cheese pairing with Sangiovese, an Italian-style grape, is Tuscan pecorino, an Italian hard cheese. The slight saltiness of the cheese draws out the fruit in this highly acidic wine.

Cheese Pairings:

  • Asiago
  • Bel Pase
  • Fontina
  • Grana
  • Provolone
  • Romano
  • Taleggio

Characteristics:

Body Acidity Sweetness Tannins
Vino di Tavola (generic Sangiovese) medium high dry high
Chianti medium high dry high
Brunello di Montalcino full high dry high

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Grenache/Garnacha

AKA: Southern Rhone Blend, GSM* – Grenache Noir (French) – Garnacha Tinta (Spanish) – Garnatxa (Catalan) – Cannonau (Sardinia)

Notes: *Typically Grenache accounts for the largest portion of a southern Côtes du Rhône wine.

Cheese Pairings:

  • Brie (without rind)
  • Camembert (without rind)
  • mild Cheddar
  • Emmental
  • Gouda
  • smoked Gouda
  • Asiago
  • Manchego
  • Monterey Jack
  • Pepper Jack
  • Provolone
  • Romano

Characteristics:

Body Acidity Sweetness Tannins
typical young vines medium low dry but fruity medium
old vines full low dry medium

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Merlot

AKA: Red Bordeaux (St Saint-Émilion, Pommerol, Fronsac, right bank Merlot dominant) many producer names – Merlot Noir – Médoc Noir

Merlot is soft and fruity. It can be complemented successfully with pungent blue cheeses, Camembert, Gouda, Gruyère, and Pecorino.

Medium to full bodied and dry, with notes of plum black cherry and black tea. The dry fruitiness of a classic merlot seamlessly blends with sharp or tangy cheeses and garlic & herb bites back. The garlic and herb cheese flavours are more heavily emphasized because of the Merlot’s dry fruitiness.

Monterey Jack, a classic American cheese craves a wine that’s on the lighter, fruitier side – just like Merlot.

Cheese Pairings:

  • Brie (without rind)
  • Camembert (without rind)
  • mild Cheddar
  • Emmental
  • Gouda
  • smoked Gouda
  • Gorganzola
  • Gruyère
  • Jarlsberg
  • Manchego
  • Monterey Jack
  • Parmesan
  • Pepper Jack
  • Pecorino
  • Provolone
  • Romano
  • Garlic and herb cheese

Characteristics:

Body Acidity Sweetness Tannins
Right Bank Bordeaux medium medium dry medium
warm climate , New World full low dry but fruity medium

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Red Rioja/Tempranillo

AKA: Rioja and many different producer brand names from Rioja – Ribero del Duero – Toro, Castilla-La Mancha – Valdepeñas – Navarra (Spain) – Douro (Portugal) – Tinto Fino – Cencibel, Tinto del Pais – Tinto de Toro – Ull de Liebre (Spain) – Tinta Roriz – Tinta Aragonez (Portugal) – Tempranilla (Argentina)

Notes: Red Rioja’s typical blend will consist of approximately 60% Tempranillo and up to 20% Garnacha, with much smaller proportions of Mazuelo and Graciano. However it can be up to 100% Tempranillo.

It is particularly good with sheep cheeses like Manchego, this sweet, classic cheese calls for the quintessential Spanish wine: Rioja!

Cheese Pairings:

  • Azeitao
  • Asiago
  • American
  • Brie (without rinds)
  • Camembert (without rinds)
  • Colby
  • Mild cheddar
  • Double Glouchester
  • Fontina
  • Gouda
  • Havarti
  • Mahon
  • Manchego
  • Monterey Jack
  • Roncal
  • Serena
  • Triple Creme
  • Saint André
  • Zamarano (Spanish sheep’s milk cheese)
  • Velveeta

Characteristics:

Body Acidity Sweetness Tannins
typical medium medium dry medium
Rioja Reserva medium low dry medium

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Zinfandel/Primitivo

AKA: Crljenak kastelansk (Croatia) – Tribidrag (Croatia) – Pribidrag (Croatia) – Kratosija (North Macedonia)

Zinfandel is a dry red wine that is medium to full-bodied and has dark jam and black pepper hints. Because Zinfandel is fruity and spicy, it pairs well with these spicy cheeses for a bold combination.

Cheese Pairings:

  • Emmental
  • Feta
  • hot buffalo
  • Jalapeno
  • Morbier
  • Muenster
  • Raclette
  • Vacherin
  • Vermont Shepherd

Characteristics:

Body Acidity Sweetness Tannins
light, fruity medium medium dry but fruity medium

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Full-Bodied Red Wine

Full-bodied red wines are the deepest, darkest, and highest in tannin of the red wines. Despite what you might have heard about it, tannin is what gives wine antioxidant properties. Ad¬ditionally, it ensures many of these wines will age for decades.

Bold red wine pairs well with fatty, umami-driven foods because of their high tannin. Truthfully though, you might want to ditch the food altogether – they drink well solo.


Bordeaux

AKA: Meritage – Bordeaux-like Blend

Notes: Refers to blends that are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot in various proportions. If from the Bordeaux region of France it is called Bordeaux. If from the New World names are Meritage or Bordeaux-like blend.

Meritage is the name for U.S. blends that include the traditional grapes used for left Bank Bordeaux wines that are Cabernet Sauvignon dominant.

Cheese Pairings:

  • Glouchester
  • Muenster
  • Provolone (aged)
  • Parmesan
  • Pecorino
  • Roncal
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Swiss
  • Taleggio
  • Tome de Bordeaux
  • Tome des Recollets

Characteristics:

Body Acidity Sweetness Tannins
typical left bank Bordeaux medium medium dry high
typical right bank Bordeaux medium medium dry medium
typical U.S. Meritage full medium dry but fruity if less than 5 yrs old medium

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Cabernet Sauvignon

AKA: Bordeaux (from the left bank, Cabernet dominant) – Petite Vidure – Bidure

This is a full-bodied and rich-flavoured dry red wine, rather assertive and tannic, with a fine blackberry tint and hints of herbs and dark fruits. Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing includes meat dishes and mostly hard intense cheeses, particularly ones that are firm and salty, such as Asiago, Cheddar, Manchego, Parmesan and Pecorino. The full body of Cabernet Sauvignon out the bold flavour qualities of a strong cheeses. Go for a hard cheese with character.

When paired with the extra sharp cheddar, the red wine draws out the bold cheddar flavours of this strong cheese.

Cabernet Sauvignon stands up to the nutty flavours in aged gouda.

Cheese Pairings:

  • Asiago
  • Aged Mild and medium sharp Cheddar
  • Edam
  • Aged or Smoked Gouda
  • Glouchester
  • Aged Manchego
  • Muenster
  • Provolone (aged)
  • Parmesan
  • Pecorino
  • Roncal
  • Taleggio

Characteristics:

Body Acidity Sweetness Tannins
cool climate medium medium dry medium
warm climate full medium dry medium

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Malbec

AKA: Cahors – Côt – Auxerrois – Pressac

Malbec is a medium to full-bodied with notions of black fruit, anise and herbs. The strong flavour of a Malbec stands tall against the robust flavours of vintage or reserve cheeses.

Malbec is a soft wine with a berry and rather spicy touch, though its flavour characteristics greatly depend on the region where it is produced. It pairs well with Asiago, Manchego, Mimolette and Taleggio.

Chocolatey Malbec helps balance out the aggressive sharpness in aged cheddar.

Cheese Pairings:

  • Asiago
  • Mild Cheddar
  • Aged Cheddar
  • Comté
  • Edam
  • Fontina
  • Glouchester
  • Manchego
  • Mimolette
  • Muenster
  • Aged Provolone
  • Parmesan
  • Pecorino
  • Roncal
  • Aged Gouda
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Taleggio
  • Vintage or Reserve Cheese

Characteristics:

Body Acidity Sweetness Tannins
Cahors style medium medium dry medium
Argentinian style full medium dry but fruity medium

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Syrah/Shiraz

AKA: Petite Syrah* – Antourenein Noir – Balsamina – Candive – Entournerein – Hignin Noir – Marsanne Noir – Schiras – Sirac – Syra – Syrac – Serine – Sereine – and specific northern Rhone red wine names

Notes: * in northern Rhône but not to be confused with Petit Sirah of California.

Syrah or Shiraz, as it is called in Australia, is a spicy wine with a large diversity of berry, meaty and peppery flavours. Crumbly, mature cheddar will suit the muscularity of a bold, Australian Shiraz. The tannins bind to protein and fat, cleansing your palate after each bite. It goes well with smoky and rather sharp cheeses, such as Edam, Gouda or St. Nectaire.

The intense and dry sturdiness of the wine pairs splendidly with the savoury intensity of aged cheeses. Wines that are paired with them need to be equally intense and should also be rather dry. Syrah holds up well in this pairing because it is dry, medium to full-bodied, and has dark fruit and herb flavours.

A Shiraz with tobacco notes works particularly well with smoked cheeses.

Cheese Pairings:

  • Aged cheeses
  • Smoked cheeses
  • Asiago
  • Mild/Firm/Aged Cheddar
  • Edam
  • Glouchester
  • Gouda
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Manchego
  • Muenster
  • Ossau-Iraty
  • Provolone (aged)
  • Parmesan
  • Pecorino
  • Roncal
  • St. Nectaire
  • Taleggio

Characteristics:

Body Acidity Sweetness Tannins
Northern Rhône medium medium dry high
warm climate
(Australia, California, Washington State)
full medium dry medium

One easy rule of thumb if you don’t find what you’re looking for here:
Pairing a wine with a cheese that comes from the same region is usually a fair bet.

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Note: I get really excited about cheese and wine, so it’s difficult for me to be brief when there is so much wonderful information to share!

Also check:

***In Development, please keep checking.


Reference: Content and images based on information from: https://www.wikipedia.org/ https://cheese.com https://www.cookipedia.co.uk
https://culturecheesemag.com https://www.gourmetsleuth.com https://winefolly.com/ https://www.tasteatlas.com https://www.wine.com/ https://winemonger.com https://www.terroir-france.com/


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