Not everyone is an expert at wine and cheese pairings, but everyone should know what they like.
If you are setting up tasty treats for a gathering and would like a simple guide to wines and cheeses (and other tasty ideas), this list is taken from my own experiences. I’m not an expert in the field, but I know what I like and what combinations are pleasing to my palate. I’ve added links to the different types of cheeses and wine varieties for the curious.
If you enjoy Brie, cold or warm, Riesling chilled or at room temperature is lovely. With the Brie, if it is being warmed or baked, add a sprinkle of pine nuts and some jam. Apricot, raspberry or loganberry have all proven to be excellent. Serve with thinly sliced baguettes.
Soft goat cheeses are good with Shiraz (or Syrah). They come in several flavors these days, most notably honey, garlic and herb, and sun dried tomato. Pair these with sliced sweet apples, crisp crackers, or a “party bread” (small loaves baked and cut specifically for canapes).
Parmesan and Asiago are very dry, crumbly cheeses most commonly found grated or flaked for toppings. They are also delightful tasting cheeses and pair nicely with Chardonnay.
Sangria and pink Moscato are favorites to pair with fruits and mild cheeses such as Mozarella and cheddar. These are most often used as dessert wines and tend to favor sweet accompaniments.
Red Moscato and chocolate and dipped fruits are a winning combination. Along with Belinnis, this combination is fun for brunches.
Some traditional standards that are generally true for meats are red wine for red meats, (beef, pork, venison, buffalo, duck), and white wines with white meats (chicken, turkey, fish). I have found this to be true for the most part.
Merlot and Shiraz pair well with grilled red meats. Chardonnay is a crisp counterpoint to may seafood dishes. Sauvignon Blanc goes well with most chicken dishes.
As for cheeses, when in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a good cheddar.
I hope this clears up a little of the mystery of pairing wines, and that you will experiment for yourself to find the combinations that most please your palate.
— Ann Cathey