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Wine and Cheese: The Classic Pairings

Wine and cheese share a natural affinity, and a nice cheese plate served with a glass or two off wine makes for a great offering while entertaining.
Pairing wines with cheese can be a simple proposition if you follow a few basic rules.

The following are some classic rules — suggestions, really — to help create the ideal culinary experience.

ch The Classic Cheese Plate
If serving a cheese plate, then versatile fruity wines such as a Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Rose, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, or Merlot will offer the best compliment.

These fruity wines also work best with sharp cheeses. Fruity reds like Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, or Chiantis are great with Manchego cheese or other hard or semi-soft sheep’s milk cheeses.

For whites, a classic combination is goat cheese with a zippy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or French Sancerre. The fruitiness and crispness of the wine can stand up to the tartness of the goat cheese.

Aged Cheeses
Aged dry cheeses need a more tannic wine. Pecorino, Parmigiano, Dry Jack, etc. are great with Cabernet Sauvignon, dry Italian reds like Barolo and Brunello, or a full bodied white like a Chardonnay. The tannins and oak in these wines play off of the nutty flavors of the cheeses.

ch Creamy Cheeses
Creamy cheeses are best with a zippy wine. A Brie or Camembert will stand up well to an acidic wine — especially one that is slightly off dry like a Pinot Blanc, Riesling, or Gewürztraminer. As long as the cheese isn’t very ripe and sharp, these wines will amplify the flavors of the mild cheese.

Ripe Soft Cheeses
For riper soft cheeses, consider a sparkling wine to cut through the heavy flavors or an even sweeter wine like a late harvest Riesling or Muscat. Another great pairing for soft — especially washed rind — cheeses is Belgian Ale, particularly one of the Trappist ales. These monasteries make their own cheeses that are delicious compliments to their beer.

Pungent Cheeses
chFor a really pungent cheese — blue cheese — there is only one really successful pairing: a sweet fortified dessert wine such as port, sweet sherry, or Madeira. One of the classic dessert cheese courses is a nice wedge of Stilton blue from England with a Port, or Roquefort from France with Sauternes.

You want a sweet, strong wine to stand up to the strong flavors of the blue. The marriage off the two flavors of Blue and Port is an incredible combination that simply must be tried to be believed.

Keep Experimentating
Whatever you do, don’t stress over making the “right” compliments. Try different things until you find what you like. These are just some suggestions for some combinations you may not have tried. The right pairing is the one that you find enjoyable.


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1789 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, GA 30033 | Phone: 404-633-8242 | www.decaturspirits.com
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