Wine and cheese is a topic that has been discussed and mulled over for centuries. Wine and cheese compliment each other like no other food combination in the world! Choosing the right combinations can be overwhelming and downright complicated! Planning a perfect wine and cheese party may seem out of reach but with these helpful hints you will be planning the perfect pairing party. Your guests will be happy, tipsy and full to their hearts content.
Tip 1: Choose Your Cheese First
I always advise to pick out the types of cheeses you wish to showcase. This will help selecting the perfect wine pairings less daunting. I would stick to some of the more main stream cheese selections with one or two wild cards thrown in! You never know how adventurous your guest’s palettes are.
Try choosing a handful of different types of cheese. More than 5 and less than 10. This will give your guests variety. Not every cheese needs to be paired with its own individual wine, you can suggest multiple combinations and still win over every tastebud in the room!
Tip 2: Narrow Down Wines By Type
Once you have selected your cheese it is time to start thinking about the main course, wine! Your job of selecting wine will be much easier if you divide your wines into four categories: Reds, Whites, Desserts, and Sparkling. It is safe to assume you will need at least one bottle from each category of wine.
Tip 3: Serve with Purpose
Take a good look at the cheeses you have selected. Do a little research on best serving temperatures. Start your tasting with the freshest cheeses and work toward the cheeses that can sit for longer times. If applicable choose lighter, fruitier wines first and move into the fuller bodied wines and end with dessert wines. Everyone enjoys a sweet treat at the end of the night!
Tip 4: Do a Trial Run
While you are out shopping for the perfect cheese, ask a lot of questions. Sample a lot of cheeses. Select your favorites, go with your instincts. Slug down some wine with your favorites and make sure you love the combination. Even if it is right on paper it doesn’t mean you have to love it. Try some combinations and choose your favorites.
Mozzarella - Origin: Italy. Made from pasteurized or unpasteurized cow’s milk, must be eaten fresh. Mild in taste. Originally only produced from Water Buffalo’s milk. Pairs with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir
Brie - Origin: France. Made from Semi-skimmed cow’s milk. The cheese is then salted and aged for a minimum of 4 weeks. Mild in Taste. Exported Brie is very different from the unstabilized version found in France. Pairs nicely with Chardonnay or sweet Pinot Noir
Cheddar - Origin: England. Most popular cheese type throughout the world. Produced in many different countries. Cheddar is always produced from cow’s milk. A hard cheese with a creamy and sharp flavor. Pair well with Shiraz or Merlot
PepperJack - Origin: United States. This cheese is part of the Monterey Jack cheese family but is infused with spices, peppers, and herbs to give it a spicy, creamy, buttery flavor. Always produced from pasteurized cow’s milk.
Gouda - Origin: Netherlands. Gouda is most commonly made from pasteurized cow’s milk. There are many different types of Gouda, each classified by the aging process. Gouda is a full flavored cheese with creamy after tastes. Pairs Chianti or Merlot
Swiss - Origin: United States. Swiss is made with or without holes. Swiss without holes is referred to as blind swiss. Swiss is made from pasteurized cow’s milk. Swiss is a mild cheese with a sweet taste. Swiss goes wonderfully with fruit. Pairs Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon
Muenster - Origin: United States. American made Muenster, not to be confused with Munster which originated in France. Muenster is a pungent, sharp cheese. Made from pasteurized cow’s milk. Pairs with Beaujolais
Monterey Jack - Origin: United States. Originally from Monterey California and named after a wealthy entrepreneur named David Jack. This cheese is mild in flavor and is primarily used in Mexican and Spanish cuisine. Pairs with Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon
Feta - Origin: Greece. The original and most famous type of feta cheese is a mixture of goat’s milk with sheep’s milk. Within recent years feta is also made with a mixture of goat’s milk and cow’s milk. Feta has a very distinct full flavored, tangy taste. Famous for being a staple of the Mediterean diet. Pairs with Sauvignon Blanc
Gorgonzola - Origin: Italy. Gorgonzola is made by unskimmed cow’s milk. These cheese takes 4 months to achieve full ripeness and will vary in tastes depending upon its age. Flavor is classified as mild to sharp with a nutty aroma. Pairs with Moscato or Champagne
Parmesan Reggiano - Origin: Italy. Commonly referred to as “Parmesan” in english this cheese is produced from unpasteurized cow’s milk. Cows must maintain a specific diet in order to produce authentic Parmesan Reggiano. Parmesan Reggiano has a strong aroma with sharp, nutty flavors. Pairs with Chianti
Blue Cheese - The family of blue cheeses are made from cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or goat’s milk and treated with mold cultures. Blue cheese has a strong sharp aroma and is commonly known as a “stinky cheese”. Taste varies vastly depending on the particular type of blue cheese. Pair with something sweet, try Riesling, Port wine, or a Fruity Californian Cabernet.