Whether you're entertaining over the holidays or simply want to elevate your dinner experience, the right food and wine pairings can make a difference. In this food and wine pairing guide, we're featuring the best cheese for red wine.
When it comes to indulging in the finer things in life, few combinations rival the exquisite pairing of red wine and cheese. There's a good reason you'll almost always find a good cheese board at wine tastings around the globe. Wine and cheese can be a perfect match!
Yet finding the right cheese to go with the right wine for the perfect pairing can be tricky business. When the flavors and characteristics complement each other, you've got a good match. But when the wine and cheese clash, it can sometimes be a tastebud fiasco.
This food and wine pairing guide is created in three distinct sections.
- We'll explore the top characteristics to consider when pairing wine with different types of cheese.
- Then we'll share the best wines to pair with specific cheeses. This is a great section if you are starting with a cheese and looking for the perfect wine to pair with it.
- Finally, we'll share some good options of different cheeses to pair with different red wine varietals. So if you're starting with a red wine, this section shares the best cheeses to pair with that wine.
So grab a glass, and let's dive into the wonderful world of cheese and wine pairing!
- Wine pairing tips
- Cheeses and their best wine pairings
- Wines and their best cheese pairings
- Cheese for Cabernet Sauvignon
- Cheese pairing with Pinot Noir
- Cheese pairing with Merlot
- Cheese pairing with Shiraz (Syrah)
- Malbec cheese pairings
- Tempranillo cheese pairings
- Cheese & charcuterie board recipes
- More food and wine pairing articles
Wine pairing tips
Before delving into specific wine and cheese combinations, it's important to understand the fundamental characteristics to consider when matching red wine with cheese:
- Flavor intensity: Balance the intensity of the wine with the cheese. Bold red wines can overpower delicate cheeses, and vice versa.
- Tannins: Red wine's tannins can be softened by the richness of certain intense cheeses and creamy cheeses.
- Acidity: Consider the acidity of both the wine and the cheese. A well-balanced pairing ensures that neither element dominates the palate.
- Aging: The aging process of both wine and cheese can impact their flavors. Combining aged wines with aged cheeses often results in harmonious pairings.
Cheeses and their best wine pairings
Starting with a cheese and looking for the best type of wine to pair with it? Here are different cheeses and wine pairings that are a good match.
- Blue Cheese - Cabernet Sauvignon. The bold flavors and creamy texture of blue cheese stand up to the strong tannins in Cabernet Sauvignon, creating a powerful and memorable duo. Also pairs well with Malbec and Syrah (Shiraz).
- Gouda - Merlot. The caramel undertones of Gouda harmonize with the plummy and velvety qualities of Merlot.
- Brie - Pinot Noir. The creamy texture of Brie complements the soft tannins and red fruit flavors of Pinot Noir, creating a velvety and luxurious pairing.
- Cheddar - Zinfandel. The sharpness of aged cheddar complements the bold and peppery characteristics of Zinfandel, creating a dynamic and flavorful partnership. Aged cheeses like aged cheddar also pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (Shiraz).
- Manchego - Tempranillo. The nutty and savory notes of Manchego enhance the earthiness of Tempranillo, creating a robust and flavorful combination.
Wines and their best cheese pairings
Now we'll take a look at the different wines, and the cheeses that best pair with each wine.
Cheese for Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is a robust and full-bodied red wine. This bold wine has rich tannins, dark fruit flavors, and often, notes of cedar, tobacco, and black pepper.
When selecting a type of cheese to pair with Cabernet Sauvignon, it's essential to choose options that can stand up to the wine's intensity and complement its complex flavors.
- Blue Cheese (e.g., Roquefort or Stilton) - The bold and pungent flavors of blue cheese can match the intensity of tannic red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. The creamy texture of the cheese complements the wine's richness, while the complex flavors create a powerful and memorable pairing.
- Aged Cheddar - The sharpness and robust flavors of aged cheddar can stand up to the bold characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon. The cheese's complexity, with its nutty and caramel notes, can enhance the wine's structure and provide a satisfying contrast.
- Gouda (Aged) - Aged Gouda, with its caramelized sweetness and firm texture, pairs well with Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine's dark fruit flavors and tannins are complemented by the cheese's nutty and slightly sweet profile, creating a balanced combination.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano - The granular texture and savory, umami notes of harder cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano can complement the tannins in Cabernet Sauvignon. The cheese's intense flavor adds depth to the pairing without overwhelming the wine.
- Gorgonzola - Semi-soft cheeses like Gorgonzola have creamy textures and strong, tangy flavors that can hold their own against the boldness of Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine's dark fruit and peppery notes find a robust companion in this cheese.
Cheese pairing with Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a versatile red wine known for its bright acidity, red fruit flavors, and relatively lighter body compared to other red varietals. When selecting cheeses to pair with Pinot Noir, it's important to consider the wine's delicate profile and avoid overpowering it.
- Brie -The creamy and buttery texture of soft-ripened cheeses like Brie pairs wonderfully with the soft tannins and red fruit notes of Pinot Noir. This combination creates a luxurious and velvety mouthfeel, enhancing the overall tasting experience.
- Gruyère - Gruyère, with its nutty and slightly sweet flavor, complements the bright acidity of Pinot Noir. The cheese's richness adds depth to the pairing without overshadowing the wine's nuanced characteristics.
- Camembert - Similar to Brie, Camembert's creamy texture and mild, earthy flavors work well with the delicate nature of Pinot Noir. The wine's red berry notes are enhanced by the cheese's subtle creaminess.
- Goat Cheese (Chèvre) - The tangy and citrusy notes of goat cheese can provide a refreshing contrast to the red fruit flavors of Pinot Noir. The wine's acidity is complemented by the cheese, creating a lively and harmonious pairing.
- Comté - Comté, a French cow's milk cheese, offers a balance of nuttiness and sweetness that complements the fruit-forward characteristics of Pinot Noir. The cheese's complexity adds depth to the pairing without overwhelming the wine.
- Morbier - Morbier, a semi-soft French cheese with a distinctive line of ash running through the middle, has a creamy texture and a slightly tangy taste. Its mild yet flavorful profile makes it a suitable companion for the subtleties of Pinot Noir.
Cheese pairing with Merlot
Merlot, known for its approachable and medium to full-bodied characteristics, typically features flavors of ripe red fruit, plums, and sometimes hints of chocolate or herbs.
When pairing cheese with Merlot, it's ideal to choose options that complement the wine's softer tannins and fruit-forward profile.
- Gouda (Mild or Smoked) - The buttery and slightly sweet flavors of Gouda, especially a mild or smoked variety, complement the ripe red fruit notes in Merlot. The cheese's smooth texture provides a delightful contrast to the wine's soft tannins.
- Fontina - Fontina's semi-soft texture and mild, nutty flavor pair well with the medium-bodied nature of Merlot. The cheese's creamy profile can enhance the wine's smooth character, creating a harmonious combination.
- Mozzarella (Fresh or Buffalo) - Merlot can be a bold, fruity red wine, which makes it a good wine to pair with fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella's mild and delicate flavor. The cheese's lightness allows the wine's red fruit notes to shine without overwhelming the palate.
- Blue Cheese (e.g., Gorgonzola Dolce) - While Merlot may not have the bold tannins of some other red wines, a milder blue cheese like Gorgonzola Dolce can provide a delightful contrast. The cheese's creamy texture and sweet, tangy flavors complement the wine's fruitiness without overpowering it.
- Havarti (Dill or Herb-infused) - Havarti, especially varieties infused with dill or herbs, can offer a subtle and aromatic pairing with Merlot. The cheese's creamy texture and mild flavors complement the wine's fruit-forward and herbaceous notes.
Cheese pairing with Shiraz (Syrah)
Shiraz, known as Syrah in some regions, is my favorite wine to pair with cheese.
It's a robust and bold red wine that often features dark fruit flavors, peppery notes, and a full-bodied profile. When selecting cheeses to pair with Shiraz, it's essential to consider the wine's characteristics to create a harmonious balance.
- Gorgonzola - The rich and creamy texture of Gorgonzola, combined with its bold blue mold flavors, pairs exceptionally well with the intense fruitiness and peppery spice of Shiraz. The sweetness in the wine can balance the sharpness of the cheese, creating a delightful contrast.
- Parmesan - Aged Parmesan, with its nutty and savory notes, pairs well with the boldness of Shiraz. The wine's dark fruit flavors and hints of black pepper can be complemented by the umami richness of Parmesan, resulting in a well-balanced pairing.
- Cheddar (Sharp or Extra Aged) - The robust and intense flavors of a sharp or extra-aged cheddar can stand up to the powerful characteristics of Shiraz. The cheese's complexity, with its hints of caramel and saltiness, can complement the wine's boldness and enhance the overall tasting experience.
- Manchego - Manchego, a firm and nutty Spanish cheese, can pair well with Shiraz due to its ability to complement the wine's dark fruit flavors while providing a counterbalance with its slightly salty and earthy undertones.
Malbec cheese pairings
Malbec is a red wine known for its bold and robust characteristics. Most famous in Argentina, this bold red wine typically features dark fruit flavors, strong tannins, and sometimes hints of chocolate, spice, or tobacco.
When choosing cheeses to pair with Malbec, it's essential to consider the wine's intensity and flavor profile.
- Manchego - The nutty and slightly salty flavors of Manchego can complement the bold and robust characteristics of Malbec. The cheese's firm texture provides a satisfying contrast to the wine's strong tannins.
- Blue Cheese (e.g., Cabrales or Stilton) - The rich and tangy flavors of blue cheese can stand up to the intense tannins and dark fruit notes of Malbec. The creaminess of the cheese can balance the wine's boldness, creating a powerful and memorable pairing.
- Aged Gouda - Aged Gouda, with its caramelized sweetness and crunchy crystals, pairs well with the dark fruit and spiciness of Malbec. The cheese's complexity adds depth to the pairing without overshadowing the wine.
- Roquefort - The bold and pungent flavors of Roquefort can stand up to the strong tannins and intense fruitiness of Malbec. The creamy texture of the cheese adds a luxurious element to the pairing.
Tempranillo cheese pairings
Tempranillo, a red wine originating from Spain, is known for its versatility and often features flavors of red and black fruit, earthiness, and moderate to high tannins. When selecting cheeses to pair with Tempranillo, it's important to consider the wine's characteristics to create a harmonious balance. Here are some cheeses that work well with Tempranillo and the reasons for their compatibility:
- Manchego - Manchego, a classic Spanish sheep's milk cheese, complements Tempranillo with its nutty flavor and slightly tangy undertones. The firm texture of Manchego stands up well to the wine's moderate tannins, creating a delightful pairing.
- Mahon - Mahon, a semi-soft cow's milk cheese from the Balearic Islands in Spain, offers a balance of nuttiness and slight earthiness. The cheese's versatility allows it to pair well with the diverse flavor profile of Tempranillo.
- Idiazábal - Idiazábal, a smoked sheep's milk cheese from the Basque region of Spain, adds a unique smokiness to the pairing. The bold flavors of Tempranillo can stand up to the intensity of Idiazábal, creating a robust and flavorful combination.
- Roncal - Roncal, a firm and nutty sheep's milk cheese from the Navarra region of Spain, complements the earthy and fruity characteristics of Tempranillo. The cheese's complexity adds depth to the overall tasting experience.
Fresh cheeses and highly aromatic cheeses may not pair as well with red wines. The delicate flavors and high acidity of fresh cheeses can be overwhelmed by the boldness of red wine. Cheeses with strong, pungent aromas can clash with the nuanced flavors of red wine, leading to an unbalanced pairing.
Dessert wine and sweet red wines can pair with cheeses that are an equal match in intensity of flavor and texture.
I hope you found this cheese and wine pairing guide helpful! Be sure to save this post or pin it to Pinterest for the next time you need a good wine and cheese pairing!