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A New View On How to Pair Red Wine and Cheese

Article by Daniel Manu on April - 2 - 2012

An oldie, but goldie, the pairing between wine and cheese is one that should not absent from any wine dinner party. This pairing is such a delight because of the diversity and the multitude of combinations you can explore.

Although I would simply love to talk about all the flavors that you can experience I will have to restrict myself a bit and just focus on the red wines. Reds are my favorite wines not only because they are bolder than whites but also because the pair well with hard cheeses.

Softer cheeses tend to get all over in your mouth and probably in places you don’t want them to. Also, soft cheeses will bring stronger flavors to the table; and this is not necessarily a good thing. You don’t want to have a whole room stinking of old cheese. So let’s get started with cheese to pair with red wine.

How does Pinot Noir match with cheese?

I will start with a wine that, in its finest form, will deliver very fruity aromas and a light display of tannins. I am talking of course about the Pinot Noir, the favorite of many wine drinkers that prefer a highly alcoholic wine that has a smooth touch.

Pinot noirs have great floral aromas that go well with natural rinsed cow’s milk cheeses and also with sheep milk cheeses. An interesting pairing is the one with the Iberian thistle rennet cheese. The soft, spongy texture of this cheese will accentuate the smooth feel of the Pinot and transform your whole mouth into jelly, a total pleasure.

Another cheese to pair with Pinot noir is Tarentaise. Awarded the “Best Farmstead Cow’s Milk Cheese”, the Tarentaise is a cheese that melts in your mouth. This is largely due to its high content of butterfat.

The staple Merlot requires a special touch

Pairing Red Wine and Cheese

Merlot has a great success among wine drinkers. This doesn’t mean that many people like the fragrances evoked by the Merlot but that this varietal has an astonishing versatility. These red wines can go from deep and complex to light and unsophisticated.

Because of this, if you want to pair cheeses with Merlot and be satisfied you need a little bit of luck. You won’t be successful every time but there are a few hints. For example, the Alpine-style cow’s milk cheeses will go well with the rich-flavored red wine.

A pairing that has proved its value time and time again is with Andeerer Schmuggler cheese, a medium to strong cheese produced from cow milk. The cocoa aromas of the cheese accompany the chocolate notes of the Merlot nicely and create an interesting result.

Zinfandel loves salty or blue cheeses

It’s time to change the scenery and leave these French wines for an American one. The Zinfandel grape simply loves the warmth of the California sun and delivers a wine that is smooth, with little tannin. The presence of exotic spices is felt instantly and is accompanied by fruit flavors.

And what do you when you want to pair a sweet wine? You make sure you don’t get your blood sugars too high and add a salty cheese in the mix. The Zinfandel pairs particularly well with blue cheeses. Their smoothness does a good job in accentuating the Zinfandels fruitiness.

But if you want to add to the complexity of flavors you can choose the Gruyere cheese. It will add nutty flavors to the experience. Also, it is a sweeter type of cheese and will bring out the spices in the Zinfandel while adding notes of mushrooms.

Cabernet Sauvignon is usually not picky

If we are talking about complex and bold flavors then we mustn’t ignore the Cabernet Sauvignon. This grape is widely known for its ability to adapt to various climates and for producing some of the finest wines in the world.

The blackcurrant flavors blend nicely with all sorts of cow’s milk cheeses. Two examples are the Gouda and Les Moulis cheese. Both have a buttery feel to them and are softer cheeses. This goes to show that the Cabernet doesn’t need a cheese to compete with, but one that will bring out the flavors in a prominent fashion.

Wines and cheeses will continue to duel and dance in our mouths for as long as we will have a spirit of curiosity and a desire to seek new experiences. Now that you know which cheese to pair with red wine, you have no excuse for buying the same cheese you always do.

Further reading:

  • How To Pair Red Wine And Cheese - It’s common knowledge that red wines are burly brawlers and white wines are delicate, a bit like men and women. But in the realm of cheese and wine this means that white wines cannot hold up to strong cheese. However...
  • How To Pair White Wine And Cheese - Let’s begin by saying that unlike some dish combinations, pairing white wine and cheese is not very hard. Generally everything revolves around pairing local cheeses with local white wines. For example Italian white wines pair well with many types of...
  • How to Pair Cheese With Champagne and Sparkling Wines - Want to know how to come up with exquisite cheese and sparkling wine pairings such as triple-cream cheese and Extra Brut Champagne? By the way, try it and you’ll never want to serve them separately again. The logic behind it...
  • Tips And Tricks On Wine And Cheese Pairing - We’re all here because we love how well food and wine compliment each other. The chemistry between them is wonderful. Of all the types of food we all live to enjoy, it’s safe to say there are not many dishes...
  • How is Pairing Cheese and Old World Wines Special - There are only a handful Old World wine countries, that is, only a few countries have been producing top quality wine for thousands of years. The most well-known are France, Italy and Spain. These countries have consistently created premium red...