The ultimate classic wine and cheese pairing for red wines

Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – Red Wine

Wine and cheese have been paired together for centuries, harmonizing the flavours of each to create the perfect culinary experience. Pairing the right cheese with the right wine can elevate the enjoyment of both, creating a taste sensation that is both delicious and memorable. For many, pairing red wine with cheese is the ultimate combination. The complex, rich flavours of red wine are perfect to match the boldness of cheese. However, with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the perfect pairing. In this guide, we will explore the ultimate classic wine and cheese pairings for red wines, offering tips and suggestions to help you create a sensory experience that will impress your guests and make any celebration unforgettable. Get ready to discover the magic of combining some of the best red wines with the perfect cheese selection.

Are you looking for the perfect match?

When pairing cheeses with wine, it’s essential to consider the texture, flavour intensity, and acidity of both to find the perfect balance. A good rule of thumb is to aim for complementary flavours and aromas rather than overpowering or contrasting ones.

Red wine

Red wine and cheese go well together. Hard cheeses like cheddar and gouda taste good with strong red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah. Soft cheeses like brie or camembert taste good with lighter red wines like Pinot Noir or Merlot. You need to balance the flavours and textures. Try different combinations to find what you like. It’s important to choose wine and cheese that work well together, not ones that are too strong.

Light-bodied and fruity red wine

Light-bodied red wines are excellent for cheese pairings, especially if you want a more balanced and nuanced flavour experience. Light-bodied red wines, such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, pair wonderfully with a variety of cheeses. These wines have a smoother, less robust profile that complements the cheese rather than overpowering it. The fruity notes in these wines complement the creaminess and milder flavours of the cheese and help cut through any sharpness. Additionally, the lower tannins found in red wines pair well with the high-fat content in cheese, creating a satisfying and rich flavour experience.
When pairing cheese with light-bodied red wines, it’s important to consider both the origin of the cheese and the winemaking region.

Beaujolais (Gamay)

The recommended serving temperature for Beaujolais wines depends on the specific type.
Beaujolais Nouveau, a young wine, should be served slightly chilled at around 12-15°C/54-59°F to enhance its fruity and fresh taste.
The more mature Beaujolais wines, including Beaujolais-Villages and the ten Beaujolais Crus, are best served at 13-15°C/55-59°F. The wine’s aromas and flavours will be more pronounced at this temperature, making for a satisfying drinking experience.

Beaujolais

Cheese Pairings

This fruity red wine is versatile and pairs well with various cheeses. The cranberry and raspberry notes in Beaujolais complement the tanginess of goat cheese, while Camembert‘s rich buttery texture helps to balance its acidity. The creamy and buttery flavour of Brie complements the fruity and light characteristics of Beaujolais/Gamay. The soft texture of Brie melts in the mouth and enhances the wine’s smoothness.
Beaujolais pairs well with Comté, Gouda, and Cheddar for the more intense and aged cheeses. The nutty and earthy flavours of these cheeses complement the fruitiness of the wine, and the tannins cut through the richness of these cheeses, making for a well-balanced pairing. Overall, the best cheese pairings for Beaujolais are mild, creamy, and nutty cheeses, which contrast and complement the wine’s fruity and tannic profile.
These are just a few examples, and many other cheese options can pair well with Beaujolais/Gamay wines. It depends on personal preference, so feel free to experiment and discover your favourite combinations.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a delicate and nuanced wine that requires careful temperature control to truly appreciate its complex flavours and aromas. Serving temperature plays a crucial role in maximizing the wine’s potential. Generally, Pinot Noir should be served at a temperature between 12-16°C/55-60°F.

Pinot Noir

Cheese Pairings

Pinot Noir is a light-bodied red wine with a delicate fruitiness, perfect for pairing with various cheeses. Cheeses complementing Pinot Noir include soft and creamy options like Brie, Camembert, and Fresh Chèvre (goat cheese). These cheeses have a subtle flavour that won’t overpower the delicate notes of the wine. Another option is Gruyère, a semi-hard cheese. This nutty and slightly sweet Swiss cheese can be an excellent match for Pinot Noir. The wine’s earthy and spicy flavours can complement the flavours in the cheese, creating a harmonious combination. Comté, an aged French cheese with a nutty flavour and firm texture, can also be a delightful pairing for Pinot Noir. The wine’s earthy notes can complement the complexity of the cheese. Lastly, pair Pinot Noir with blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola and Roquefort. Blue cheese has a robust flavour that contrasts nicely with the delicacy of the wine, creating a harmonious balance of taste.
Remember, cheese and wine pairings can vary depending on personal preferences. Hence, it’s always a good idea to experiment and find combinations that you enjoy the most. Cheers!

This red wine is just right – not too light or too heavy. It has a moderate amount of tannin and a slightly higher acidity. When selecting a medium-bodied red wine to pair with cheese, there are a few things to consider. A cheese with a tangy or slightly acidic flavour can complement the fruitiness of the wine. Cheddar cheeses, such as aged or sharp cheddar, can be an excellent option for pairing with medium-bodied red wines like Merlot due to its bold flavour. Similarly, a nutty cheese like Gruyere or Swiss can work well with a medium-bodied red like Chianti. On the other hand, lighter and creamier cheeses such as Brie and Camembert may not be the best pairing with some medium-bodied red wines as their flavours may be overpowered by the wine. Experimentation is key in finding the perfect pairing, so don’t be afraid to try different combinations and see what works best for your palate.

Grenache/Garnacha

The serving temperature of Grenache/Garnacha depends on the style and region in which it was produced.
Typically, Grenache/Garnacha produced in cooler regions and a lighter style is served at a slightly lower temperature, around 16-18°C/60-64°F.
However, Grenache/Garnacha produced in warmer regions and a fuller-bodied style can be served at slightly higher temperatures, around 18-20°C/64-68°F.
This is because the fruit flavours can become muted when the wine is too cold, and the tannins can become harsh and aggressive when the wine is too warm.
It is important to note that these are general guidelines, and personal preference also plays a role. Experimenting with different serving temperatures is recommended to find what works best for each wine.

Grenache

Cheese Pairings

Grenache/Garnacha is known for its medium-bodied profile, moderate tannins, and bold and fruity flavour, which pairs well with various cheeses. It can complement both soft and hard cheeses. Some popular cheese options that pair well with Grenache/Garnacha include Manchego, a Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk with a nutty and slightly sweet buttery flavour that complements the fruity and spicy undertones in the wine. Another excellent pairing is with Gouda, a Dutch cheese with a creamy, rich, slightly sweet and caramel-like flavours flavour that balances the spice and acidity in the medium-bodied wine. A classic choice, cheddar cheese offers a range of flavours depending on its age. Younger cheddars have a milder taste that pairs well with the red fruit flavours of Grenache, while aged cheddars provide a sharper contrast. For a more adventurous palate, blue cheese like Roquefort or Stilton can also be paired with Grenache/Garnacha, as the bold flavours in the cheese hold up to the intensity of the wine. Blue cheese‘s bold, salty, and tangy qualities can create an interesting contrast with the fruity flavours of Grenache. It can add complexity to the pairing and bring out the spicy undertones of the wine. Also, goat cheese‘s creamy and slightly acidic nature can harmonize well with the high acidity of Grenache. It can enhance the red fruit flavours and bring out the wine’s freshness.
It’s important to note that personal taste preferences may vary. Experimenting with different combinations is always a good idea to find the best cheese pairing that suits your palate.

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is a red wine that is commonly enjoyed at room temperature, which is around 15-18°C/60-65°F. However, the ideal temperature can vary depending on the individual’s preference and the region of origin. Some experts suggest serving Cabernet Franc between 13-15°C/55-60°F to take advantage of the wine’s aromatic qualities.
It is essential to remember that serving temperature can significantly influence the taste profile of the wine, so it is best to try different temperatures and find the sweet spot that suits you best. A good rule of thumb is to serve Cabernet Franc slightly cooler than room temperature.

Cabernet Franc

Cheese Pairings

Cabernet Franc is a versatile red wine that pairs well with various cheeses. Brie and Camembert’s creamy, buttery texture can complement the wine’s fruit and herbaceous notes of Cabernet Franc. Also, Swiss cheese with a nutty and slightly sweet flavour, Gruyère, can contrast the medium-bodied and herbaceous character of Cabernet Franc. Aged Cheddar, Gouda, and Manchego possess a sharp taste and a firm texture that can complement the wine’s firm tannin structure. Blue cheeses such as Roquefort or Gorgonzola can perfectly balance the wine’s acidity and add some saltiness to the palate. The bold and tangy flavours of blue cheese can create an interesting contrast with the fruitiness and herbal notes of Cabernet Franc. An Italian sheep’s milk cheese, Pecorino Toscano has a rich and slightly salty flavour that pairs well with the earthy and herbal qualities of Cabernet Franc. The nutty and savoury flavours of Parmesan can complement the medium-bodied nature of Cabernet Franc. Grated Parmesan can add depth and richness to dishes paired with this wine.
Remember, these suggestions are just a starting point, and personal preferences may vary. Feel free to experiment with combinations to find your favourite cheese pairing with Cabernet Franc.

Chianti (Sangiovese)

The ideal serving temperature for Chianti and Sangiovese wines is between 15-20°C/60-68°F. The wine’s aromas and flavours are at their best in this temperature range, providing a balanced and smooth taste.

Chianti

Cheese Pairings

Chianti/Sangiovese wines are known for their high acidity and earthy flavours, which pair well with various cheese types. One classic pairing is Parmigiano-Reggiano. It has a sharp, nutty, and savoury taste. This hard cheese’s rich and intense flavours can harmonize with the fruitiness and acidity of Chianti/Sangiovese. Another good option is Pecorino, a salty, nutty and sharp cheese made from sheep’s milk that pairs well with the earthy and herbal notes of Chianti/Sangiovese. Its firm texture can hold up to the wine’s structure. Fresh mozzarella also pairs well with Chianti, as its delicate flavour and creamy texture balance the wine’s complexity. Aged Gouda, this Dutch cheese variety provides a smooth texture and a slightly sweet, caramel-like flavour. It can contrast the fruit-forward profile of Chianti/Sangiovese while complementing the wine’s medium body. Asiago is an Italian cheese with various flavours depending on age. Younger Asiago has a mild and slightly sweet taste, while aged Asiago becomes sharper and more flavourful. Both options can work well with Chianti/Sangiovese, adding depth and complexity to the pairing. Fontina is a semi-soft Italian cheese with a mild buttery taste. It can pair well with the medium acidity and cherry flavours of Chianti/Sangiovese. Its creamy texture can bring out the smoothness of the wine. Gorgonzola is another popular option if you enjoy bolder pairings, as its creamy texture and pungent flavour contrast with the fruity and herbal notes of Chianti/Sangiovese. The wine’s acidity can complement the richness of this blue cheese.
Remember, personal preferences may vary, so feel free to experiment and find your own favourite cheese pairing with Chianti/Sangiovese.

Merlot

The ideal serving temperature for Merlot wine is between 16-18°C/60-65°F. This temperature range will allow the wine to fully express its flavours and aromas without being too cold or too warm.

Merlot

Cheese Pairings

Merlot is a versatile, medium-bodied red wine that pairs well with various cheeses. The tannins in Merlot can complement the creaminess of certain cheeses, while the fruitiness of the wine can accentuate the nuttiness and sweetness of others. Some of the best cheese options to pair with Merlot include: Cheddar cheese’s range of flavours, from milder to sharper, can harmonize with Merlot’s fruitiness and smooth texture. The combination can create a balanced and enjoyable pairing. Gouda is a Dutch cheese known for its slightly sweet and nutty flavours. Its creamy and smooth texture can complement the soft tannins of the medium-bodied nature of Merlot while enhancing its fruit flavours. Brie and Camembert, these soft and creamy French cheeses have a mild flavour that pairs well with Merlot’s fruit-forward and smooth characteristics. The combination can provide a pleasant balance of tastes and textures. Blue cheese‘s saltiness and pungent flavours can create an interesting contrast with Merlot’s soft and fruity nature. The wine’s moderate tannins and acidity can help balance the richness of the cheese. The nutty and savoury flavours of Parmesan can pair well with the smoothness and fruitiness of Merlot. Grated Parmesan can add depth and richness to dishes paired with this wine. Gruyère cheese offers a nutty and slightly sweet flavour that can complement the medium-bodied profile of Merlot. Its complex flavours and firm texture make it an excellent partner for this wine.
Remember, these suggestions are just a starting point, and personal taste preferences may vary. Don’t hesitate to experiment and explore other cheese options to find your preferred pairing with Merlot.

Red Rioja (Tempranillo)

The ideal serving temperature for Red Rioja and Tempranillo is between 16-18°C/60-64°F, which is slightly cooler than the typical room temperature of 20°C/68°F. Serving the wine at this temperature allows the fruity and spicy notes to be more pronounced while the tannins and acidity remain balanced.

Rioja

Cheese Pairings

Red Rioja/Tempranillo pairs well with a variety of cheeses. The recommended cheese options include Manchego, a Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk. Its nutty and slightly tangy flavour pairs beautifully with the fruity and earthy notes of Red Rioja/Tempranillo. Look for aged Manchego for added complexity. Another Spanish cheese, Mahón, is a cow’s milk cheese with a buttery and tangy taste. Its creamy texture and subtle saltiness can accentuate the flavours of the wine, creating a harmonious pairing. Cheddar‘s versatility makes it an excellent match for Red Rioja/Tempranillo. The varying tastes, from mild to sharp, and the cheese’s firm texture can complement the wine’s fruitiness and medium body. Ewephoria is a Dutch sheep’s milk cheese with a rich and nutty flavour profile. Its slight sweetness and creamy texture can beautifully complement the smoothness and complexity of Red Rioja/Tempranillo. Gouda is a Dutch cheese with a slightly sweet and caramel-like flavour. Its creamy texture and richness can enhance the medium-bodied characteristics of the wine and create a pleasant pairing. Tête de Moine is a Swiss cheese known for its distinct flavour and appearance. The nutty and slightly spicy taste of this semi-hard cheese can contrast nicely with the fruitiness and depth of Red Rioja/Tempranillo. Other recommended cheese options include Idiazabal, Roncal, and Zamorano cheeses made from sheep’s milk and have a nutty flavour. Garrotxa, made from goat’s milk, is also an excellent choice with a slightly tangy taste. Cabrales, Valdeón, and other blue cheeses with rich, creamy flavours can also balance the wine’s tannins. However, it’s best to avoid creamy, soft cheeses like brie or camembert, which may overpower the wine.
Remember, these are just general suggestions, and personal preferences may vary. Feel free to explore different cheese options and combinations to find your own perfect pairing with Red Rioja/Tempranillo.

Full-bodied red wines are the deepest, darkest, and highest tannin of red wines and go well with a variety of cheeses, but some pairings are incredibly delicious. One classic pairing is a bold Cabernet Sauvignon with aged cheddar. The rich and complex flavours of the wine complement the nutty and sharp taste of the cheddar cheese. Another great pairing is a deep, spicy Syrah or Shiraz with blue cheese. The intensity and tannins of the wine balance the pungent and creamy flavours of the blue cheese. Remember to let the wine breathe for a few minutes before enjoying full-bodied red wines with cheese before drinking to fully appreciate the complexities and flavours.

Zinfandel (Primitivo)

To fully enjoy the flavours of Zinfandel, it is recommended to serve it at a temperature between 15-18°C/60-65°F. This temperature range allows the wine to express its full potential.

Zinfandel

Cheese Pairings

Zinfandel is a medium to full-bodied and spicy red wine that pairs well with various cheeses. The rich, full-bodied nature of the wine pairs well with bold and flavorful cheeses. Some good cheese pairing options for this type of wine are aged cheddar, aged gouda, parmesan, asiago, and manchego. These cheeses offer a nutty and slightly sharp flavour that complements the fruitiness and spiciness of Zinfandel/Primitivo without overpowering it. Additionally, creamy and slightly nutty cheeses like Brie or Camembert can help mellow out the tannins in the wine with their smooth texture and subtle flavours. Blue cheeses like Roquefort or Gorgonzola can be a great choice if you prefer a bolder pairing. The strong and creamy salty flavours of these cheeses can create an interesting contrast to the fruitiness of the wine. However, it’s important to remember that the intensity of the cheese should match the intensity of the wine, as a mild cheese may get overshadowed by the boldness of Zinfandel/Primitivo.
Ultimately, the choice of cheese depends on personal preferences and experimentation to find the perfect pairing for your taste.

Malbec

The right temperature will enhance the aroma and flavour of any wine type, and Malbec is no exception. Ideally, Malbec should be served between 16-18°C/60-65°F. This is slightly cooler than room temperature but not too cold. A slight chill can help balance the wine’s tannins and reveal its complex flavours.

Malbec

Cheese Pairings

Malbec is a full-bodied red wine with a deep fruit flavour that pairs well with a variety of cheeses. Whether it’s mild, medium, or aged Cheddar, this classic cheese’s flavours can complement Malbec’s robust character. Young Gouda offers a creamy and buttery texture with mild flavours, while aged Gouda develops a caramelized sweetness that can complement the wine’s fruitiness. You can also pair Malbec with firmer cheeses, like smoked Gouda, to create a savoury flavour sensation. The aged Cheddar‘s sharpness can create an excellent complement to the bold flavour of Malbec. Blue cheese‘s bold and tangy flavours, such as Roquefort, Stilton, or Gorgonzola, can enhance the pairing experience with Malbec. The creamy texture and assertive flavours of blue cheese can complement the wine nicely. Similarly, aged sheep’s milk cheese like Manchego and Pecorino Romano, with a firm texture and a slightly nutty flavour profile, can bring out the wine’s peppery notes. Manchego‘s richness can balance Malbec’s fruitiness, creating a harmonious pairing.
The creamy and velvety texture of Camembert or Brie pairs well with Malbec. These milder buttery cheeses can provide a nice smooth contrast to the wine’s tannins and fruit-forward nature. Additionally, soft and creamy goat cheese, such as Chèvre, can be a delightful pairing with Malbec. Its tangy and slightly acidic flavours can contrast the wine’s sweetness and add complexity.
Of course, personal preferences play a significant role in cheese pairings, and you may find joy in exploring other combinations. Experiment with different cheese and Malbec wine combinations to find your perfect pairing! Additionally, consider incorporating crusty bread, dried fruits, or nuts to enhance the overall taste experience.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The right serving temperature can enhance the wine’s taste and aroma. The ideal temperature for serving Cabernet Sauvignon is between 15-18°C/60-65°F. The wine’s tannins and acidity are well-balanced at this temperature, and the flavours are more pronounced.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cheese Pairings

Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied and tannic wine that requires a rich and robust cheese pairing to balance its characteristics. Some of the cheese options that can pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon are:
The rich and nutty flavours with a slight sharpness of aged Cheddar cheese work wonderfully with the intense, fruity profile of Cabernet Sauvignon. The firm texture and complex flavours of aged Cheddar complement the wine’s tannic structure. Both young and aged Gouda can be delightful with Cabernet Sauvignon. Young Gouda offers a creamy, buttery texture with mild flavours, while aged Gouda exhibits a caramelized sweetness and sharpness that pairs well with the wine. The robust and pungent flavours of blue cheese, such as Roquefort, Stilton, or Gorgonzola, contrast beautifully with the fruity and tannic nature of Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine’s acidity can balance the creaminess and saltiness of the blue cheese. Manchego, a Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk, has a nutty buttery flavour. The firm and slightly crumbly texture and tangy flavour of Manchego complement the structured tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon, creating a harmonious pairing experience. The hard and salty nature of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese provides a delightful contrast to the bold flavours of Cabernet Sauvignon. The cheese’s intense umami and nutty characteristics complement the wine’s complexity. The creamy and soft texture of Camembert or Brie pairs well with Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine’s boldness balances the buttery flavours of these rich and creamy cheeses.
Overall, bold-flavoured cheeses with a strong character can balance the powerful and complex taste of Cabernet Sauvignon, making for an enjoyable pairing experience.

Syrah/Shiraz

The recommended serving temperature for Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is between 15.5-18.3°C/60-65°F. This temperature range brings out the wine’s full flavour, aroma, and structure.

Syrah

Cheese Pairings

Syrah/Shiraz wines, with their bold flavours and high tannins, pair well with a variety of cheeses. Cheeses that pair well with Syrah/Shiraz should be able to stand up to its robust flavours. The rich, creamy, and tangy flavours of blue cheeses like Roquefort, Stilton, and Gorgonzola are excellent choices because their sharp and pungent flavours complement the wine’s powerful flavours and firm tannins. The contrasting flavours create a harmonious pairing. Asiago also works well because its strong flavours and crumbly texture cut through the wine’s tannins. Cheddar cheese, especially the aged varieties, can stand up to the boldness of Syrah/Shiraz. The sharpness and nuttiness of aged Cheddar can provide a nice contrast to the wine’s flavours. The sharp and salty nature of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese can balance the bold flavours of Syrah/Shiraz. The cheese’s nutty and savoury characteristics can enhance the tasting experience. Both young and aged Gouda work well with Syrah/Shiraz. Young Gouda offers a creamy texture and mild sweetness that can complement the wine, while aged Gouda exhibits caramelized and nutty flavours that pair nicely with Syrah/Shiraz’s boldness. The richness of Manchego can stand up to the intensity of Syrah/Shiraz and create a complementary pairing. This Spanish sheep’s milk cheese has a firm texture and a slightly nutty flavour profile. Pecorino Romano, a hard Italian sheep’s milk cheese, has a sharp, salty flavour profile that pairs well with Syrah/Shiraz. Its intense and complex flavours can complement the wine’s robustness. Additionally, creamy, buttery cheeses like Brie and Camembert can provide a smooth, mellow contrast that balances the wine’s acidity and spiciness. 
Syrah/Shiraz pairs well with various cheeses, but bold and flavorful options are the best companions. Remember, personal preferences play a significant role in cheese pairings; you may find other combinations you enjoy. Add accompaniments like crusty bread, dried fruits, or nuts to enhance the overall cheese and wine pairing experience.

The best cheese pairing will depend on your personal preferences.
Feel free to explore and experiment to find the combination you enjoy the most.
One easy rule of thumb if you don’t find what you’re looking for here:

Pairing wine with cheese from the same region is usually a fair bet.

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These tips are from my own experience;
I’m neither a party organizer, a sommelier, nor a turophile (a cheese connoisseur). 

I just love cheese, wine and spending time with family and friends.

I hope my easy tips will give you the confidence to host a wine and cheese party with a handful of close friends.

If you use my tips for your next Wine & Cheese party, please comment below and remember to take a picture, tag @Fast2eat.com and use #Fast2eat so that we can both marvel at how easy it was!

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