Wine Pairing

Cheese and wine pairing: open the door to flavor

No matter how tasty your cheese, a great wine pairing can introduce your cheese to a whole new world of flavor. A terrific cheese and wine pairing will bring out aromas and flavor notes that don't exist when enjoying wine and cheese by themselves.

Why do cheese and wine go together so well? It makes sense if you think about it – both are human-made products, crafted by artisans with age-old techniques that turn simple, raw ingredients into complex vessels of flavor and taste pleasure. Translation: a great cheese and wine pairing makes our taste buds giddy.

But choosing the right wine pairing for your nutty emmenthaler, bold gorgonzola, creamy muenster or aged cheddar can be a challenge. And no one wants to ruin a wine and cheese party by overwhelming a delicate alpine-style cheese with a bold and highly tannic cabernet.

Here in Wisconsin, we've spent a lot of time searching for the right wine pairing for our 600+ cheeses. (Yes, it's a chore, but someone has to do it.) And because we're Wisconsinites, we are always happy to offer a helpful suggestion. Read on, cheese-lovers.

Tips for a pleasing wine pairing

One thing to remember when choosing a wine pairing for your cheese: there's no one right answer. There are certainly some mistakes that the tips below can help you avoid, but part of the fun of wine and cheese pairing is experimenting until you find something you like. Of course, that means you'll have to consume a lot of wine and cheese along the way – sorry to break it to you like that.

Tip #1 for cheese and wine pairing: match intensity. Big, bold, older wines need big-flavored cheeses, while younger and more subtle varietals do best with younger milder cheeses.

Tip #2: complement or contrast textures. A rich, creamy cheese blends beautifully with buttery, oaky white wines, but the bright bubbles of a sparkling wine can be a welcome contrast to the density of a soft cheese.

Tip #3: consider the salt. Salt in cheese brings out flavors in wine just as it does in food. When selecting a wine pairing for a salty cheese, consider a rich fruit wine like a zinfandel or syrah – the salt in the cheese will bring out the sweetness in the wine, while the wine will balance out the saltiness of the cheese.

Tip #4: when in doubt, go for nuts. When you don't have a strong feeling about which cheese is best, go for a firm, nutty cheese like swiss, gouda or emmenthaler. These cheeses have enough fats to match the tannins in red wines, and enough sophisticated nuance to pair well with delicate whites.

Videos: Discover Your Next Favorite Cheese

FAQs: Why does cheese make a great wine pairing?

Why does cheese make a great wine pairing?

Scientific studies suggest that people like the combination of wine and cheese because the high levels of fat and protein in cheese perfectly balance the acidity and tannin in the wine, and vice versa.

What's a good wine pairing for hard cheese?

Most hard cheeses will do best with a medium-bodied red like a rioja or cabernet sauvignon, though cheddar and chardonnay also make a nice couple.

What pairs well with soft cheese?

Soft cheeses do well with light reds like a beaujolais, pinot noir, or even a rosé.

What's a good wine pairing for blue cheese?

Blue cheese likes a sweeter wine like a port, sauternes, or sweet sherry.

What's a good wine pairing for stinky cheese?

Washed-rind cheeses – or stinky cheeses – pair best with a crisp dry white wine.

Whatever the wine pairing, Wisconsin will always deliver the cheese

Wine pairing is big in Wisconsin, because we're all about giving our cheese the best chance at a full-flavored life. That's what happens when you have a whole state full of people who consider themselves cheese heads. Or when 90% of the milk from all your dairy farms goes to making cheese. Or when your cheesemakers win more awards than any other state or country on earth.

Yep, Wisconsin is truly the State of Cheese, producing more flavors, varieties, and styles than anywhere else in the world. Which means whatever wine you're pairing up, there's a Wisconsin cheese just waiting to be asked to dance.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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