Whether you’re celebrating the New Year, an anniversary, or a life achievement, nothing says, “I’m ready for a good time” like a flute of something bubbly and, of course, your favorite Wisconsin cheese.
The world of sparkling wine can be a confusing one. Champagne? Prosecco? Cava? What’s the difference? The good news is that although these wines all have their own unique quirks and features, they all go brilliantly with cheese. Just like our wine pairing guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know so you can plan a cheese-filled celebration with confidence.
Pairing Cheese with Champagne
Compared to prosecco or cava, Champagne has finer bubbles and an arguably more complex taste than the others, with notes of brioche or yeast. These bread-like flavors make Champagne a particularly good partner to cheese.
While many people use the word Champagne to refer to any sparkling wine, it’s actually a misnomer. Champagne is sparkling wine that originates exclusively from the Champagne region of France and produced under strict regional rules that govern vineyard practices, grape sourcing, and more. If your sparkling wine wasn’t produced in the Champagne region, technically it’s not Champagne—although that doesn’t make it any less delicious. With that history lesson out of the way, let’s focus on the important matter at hand: pairing Champagne with cheese.
Alpine-Style and Champagne
Alpine-style is a cheese transplant that made its way over to Wisconsin with some of the region’s first European immigrants. Since then, Wisconsin cheesemakers have taken traditional alpine-style cheese and infused it with some of their own unique flavor that’s distinct from its old-world counterpart. The nutty and full-bodied flavor of this type of cheese is a great match to Champagne; its earthy flavor complements Champagne’s slight dryness perfectly. Tres chic.
Aged Cheddar and Champagne
While this pairing might surprise many, it makes perfect sense. Aged cheddar has a complex and rich flavor profile that needs an equally strong partner—enter Champagne. The notes of brioche from the Champagne bring out cheddar’s subtle but tangy character. Trust us, it doesn’t get cheddar than this.
Baby Swiss and Champagne
Contrast is the name of the game here. Baby swiss brings a deliciously smooth and creamy mouthfeel to the party while Champagne has a sharper, bubbly effervescence that shines through with each sip. Baby swiss is a great crowd-pleaser for holiday celebrations and will be sure to delight cheese lovers and novices alike.
Pairing Cheese with Prosecco
If you’re looking for an easy-drinking and refreshing sparkling wine, look no further. Prosecco is arguably the lightest and most vibrant sparkling wine option with plenty of crispness and lots of fruity aroma to go around. Plus, it’s a budget-friendly option…which means you can spend more on cheese. Priorities, right?
Prosecco hails from Italy and is primarily made with Glera grapes that bring stronger fruit and flower aromas to the table than Champagne. You can also expect a frothier effervescence compared to Champagne’s finer bubbles. Because of its sweetness, we’d recommend pairing it with earthy and rich cheeses that won’t overwhelm your palate with sweetness.
Parmesan and Prosecco
One of our all-time favorite pairings, parmesan has a sharp and salty flavor profile that offers a tasty contrast to a sweet sip of prosecco. Lucky for you, Wisconsin is home to some of the best parmesan in the world with Wisconsin cheesemakers racking up over 135 awards for parmesan alone!
Colby and Prosecco
Colby is the best friend we all wish we had: reliable, pleasant to be around, and always a team player. This Wisconsin original has a mild, earthy flavor and a soft, smooth texture that makes it an easy pairing with any sparkling wine—but particularly prosecco due to its sweetness and frothy bubbles. The colby tones down the sweetness of the prosecco and in return unveils the more complex flavors that were hidden before.
Gorgonzola and Prosecco
Gorgonzola is our wildcard pick for the more adventurous cheese lover. We recommend sticking to a creamy and soft variety that isn’t too sharp. The dryness of the prosecco will cut through the buttery mouthfeel of the gorgonzola for an experience that can only be described as transcendent. If that sounds over the top, well, you’ll just have to try it for yourself.
Pairing Cheese with Cava
Our sparkling wine tour of the world makes its final stop in the sunny land of Spain. Inspired by French Champagne, cava is produced in the Catalonia region of Spain and is made from a variety of grapes. Compared to the standard of Champagne, cava tends to be lower in acidity and fruitier than its French counterpart. Due to its lower acidity, it’s easier to pair with cheese—cheese lovers rejoice! Differences aside, cava has more in common with Champagne than prosecco and you can feel confident using most Champagne and cheese pairings with cava as well.
Muenster and Cava
Not to be confused with munster, muenster is the classic Wisconsin take on a European classic. In Wisconsin, muenster is generally made as a semi-soft cheese that’s a bit hardier than its European counterpart. While we’d never complain about having any cheese, we think the Wisconsin version may just be better—we’ll let you decide. With enough earthiness to balance out the fruity notes from the cava, muenster and cava make a great pair.
Swiss and Cava
Swiss cheese is a gentle giant of flavor, packed with buttery, nutty goodness. Despite its unmistakable flavor, swiss plays nicely alongside sips of cava. Stick to milder varieties as aged swiss might be too mature of a partner for cava, big age differences can be an obstacle for cheese-sparkling wine relationships.
FAQs: The Cheese Lover’s Guide: Pairing Sparkling Wine with Cheese
What cheese goes well with sparkling wine?
We recommend choosing mildly nutty and earthy cheeses to go with most sparkling wines. Try to stay away from pungent cheeses like limburger that can overpower the delicate flavors in Champagne, prosecco, or cava.
What cheese goes well with Champagne?
Baby swiss is our top recommendation for Champagne. The mild and buttery baby swiss contrasts beautifully with Champagne’s higher acidity and sharp bubbles. We advise sticking with mildly earthy and smooth cheeses that will contrast with Champagne.
What cheese pairs best with Prosecco?
Baby swiss and parmesan are great cheeses to pair with prosecco. Buttery, earthy cheeses are complemented by the dry, bubbly white wine and elevate any social gathering. Honestly, get both and thank us later.
How should I serve sparkling wine?
Generally, sparkling wine should be chilled in the refrigerator for around three hours before drinking. Choose a narrow, flute shaped glass for serving. Too much surface area causes the bubbles to fizzle out faster.