Wine and Cheese Pairing

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Balance is the key to pairing both wine and cheese. You don't want to overpower either one. In general, remember simple cheeses usually match with simpler wines. Showcase your "prized bottles" with specialty/handcrafted cheeses.

Also remember that you don't need to spend a lot of money to have good parings, as long as you follow some basic principles. If you go to a specialty store, you can ask for a free taste and also buy small amounts so that you can get quite a selection.

Some people say the European cheese tastes better and that might be because they use unpasteurized milk. Many think that the U.S. laws that require pasteurizing kill good organisms that give cheeses their full flavor and complexity.

Making Good Selections:

Fresh Goat Cheese

  • French Sancerre - A Sauvignon Blanc from the Sancerre region in France (The chalky soil in the region adds mineral complexity to the wine)
  • Alsace Dry Riesling- Off-dry, displaying great acid, not really fruity
  • New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (grapefruit and citrus characteristics)
  • German Riesling Spatlese (not Auslese - too sweet)
  • Washington State Dry Riesling (Chateau Ste. Michelle has some great ones -try their single-vineyards and or reserves, and especially the Dr. Loosen wines if you can find them)
  • Wines from the Loire Valley in France
  • Oregon Pinot Gris
  • Heirloom Tomatoes, herbs, thyme, chives, sesame seeds, and black pepper added to the cheese make it even better with the wines.

Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella

  • Italian Verdicchi (like Rocca della de Macie)
  • Vermentino (Antinori, Santadi, Sella Mosca)
  • Soft, Spicy Southern Italian Red
  • Nero d’avola from Sicily (try Morgante) or Taurino Salice Salentino
  • Anything soft and spicy, like maybe a lighter red zinfandel without a lot of oak
  • Interesting Spicy blends

Apple Smoked Mozzarella made from Cow's Milk

  • Oaky, New World Chardonnay

(Cambria, ZD, Talley, Sebastopol, August Briggs, Joel Gott, Beringer, Mondavi, Martinelli, Chalk Hill, Far Niente)

  • Australian Chardonnay (with Oak)

Havarti (creamy and smooth)

  • New World Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Lighter ones are better, like ones from Washington State, New York, Alexander Valley and Sonoma

Dry Jack (Hard, nutty and salty, yet also smooth on the palate)

  • Huge Red Zinfandel

(Ridge, Martinelli, Turley, Seghesio, Dry Creek Vineyards, Ravenswood Single-Vineyard Selections like "Lodi", Seven Deadly Zins, Balantine, EOS, Francis Coppola Pennino - the bigger the better).

Manchego, Spain (Sheep's Milk)

A must at a wine tasting as it goes well with many wine varietals. Also, it keeps well for a long time in the fridge and is a dry cheese, good drizzled with E.V.O.O. too.

  • Older Spanish Rioja Riserva
  • Aged Old World Rustic Reds
  • Ripe, Portuguese Reds
  • French Champagne
  • Dry American Sparkling
  • Gruet Brut from New Mexico
  • Chardonnay
  • Aged Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Sherry
  • Southern Oregon Tempranillo (Umpqua Valley)

Other Spanish and Portuguese Cheese

  • Rustic Reds

German Cambazola or Cambazzola (creamy bleu that crosses Camembert and Gorgonzola)

  • Round and Rich New World Merlot, pricier ones usually are rounder and pair better

(Alexander Valley Vineyards, Swanson, Tobin James mid-tier Merlot, Duckhorn, Columbia Crest Reserve, Pride Mountain, Rombauer, Chateau Ste Michelle Ethos, Newton, L’ecole 41, Twomey, Jade Mountain)

  • New World Cabernets or New World Meritage Styles (Cabernet, Merlot, and other Bordeaux Grapes)
  • Any good Cabernet Sauvignon, Byington “Alliage”, Franciscan Magnificat, Rubicon, Justin Isosceles, Quintessa, Joseph Phelps Insignia or your favorites big boys
  • Super Tuscans or “New style” Italian Sangiovese or "Cal-Itals"


  • Vintage French Champagne Brut
  • Cote du Rhone Red
  • Chateaumneuf-du-Pape
  • Syrah Blends
  • Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Franc Blends
  • Fuller-bodied Red Blends
  • Fino Sherry

Maytag Blue (nutty and sweet)

  • Slightly sweet, raisiny red (Italian recioto is delicious, if you can find it).
  • Fruity fortified wine like olorosso sherry and dry Maderia
  • Auslese or a little more expensive Rieslings
  • Italian Amarones
  • Big Australian Shiraz that display more fruit
  • California Red Blends that are not too oaky, but are sweeter

Peccorino Toscano, Italy

  • Concentrated and Elegant Italian Red
  • Italian Vino Nobile di Multepulciano
  • Classic Tuscan Reds
  • Old World Reds
  • Italian Amarone

Aged English Cheddar

  • Nut Brown Ale
  • Paulaner Double-Bock
  • Mackeson
  • Ommegang Belgian-Style, New York
  • Sandeman's, Dow's, or Warres Tawny


  • French Blanc de Blancs Champagne
  • California Blanc de Blancs (made from Chardonnay Grapes)
  • Spanish Sparkling Cavas

Italian Gorgonzola

  • Big Amarone or Super Tuscans with some age, Big Italians

(My favorites are Tommasi, Cesare, Allegrini, Dei).

French Cheeses (Soft to Firm) - Valencay, Chabichou, Saint Nectaire, Coulommiers, Explorateur, Fourme d’Ambert (Bleu), Montbriac (Bleu), Cantal, and Comte

  • Pinot Noir (go from lighter to drier and heavier) ripe Beaujoulais Cru, French Sancerre Rouge, Elizabeth Spencer, Robert Sinskey, Summerland, Molnar "Poseidon's Vineyard", Domaine Serene, The Four Graces, to spicy and earthy pinot noir from Carneros and Oregon to more powerful, rustic French red burgundy (Gevry-Chamberin), as the cheese gets stronger and harder

Gubbeen, Ireland

  • Earthy French Pinot Noir or Oregon Pinot Noir


  • Off-dry champagne (not brut)

Brebis, France(Semi-soft)

  • Southern French Cabernet

Perail, France (Creamy)

  • Huge Chateauneuf de Pape

Wisconsin Cheddar

  • Australian Blends like Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Penley Cabernet Coonawarra


  • Italian Nebbiolo


  • Alsace Gewurtztraminer
  • Fino Sherry


  • French Sauternes
  • Late Harvest or Botrytis Semillion

Pierre Robert, France (Buttery, triple cream)

  • Prized, aged Bordeaux

Big No-No's:

  • Blue Cheese is not good with Champagne (although some like Cambazola) or Sauvignon Blanc (it overpowers the wine)
  • Fresh, young and tangy cheeses like goat’s cheese are not good with sherry, tawny port, or dry madeira.

Posted by: Amish Underground

Edited by: ll_Crayola_ll7