Quick Recipes and Easy

Wine and Cheese: Are There Really Any Rules?

Cheese and wine are thought of as natural partners. What can be a more pleasant prospect than a cheese and wine party?

But really, the fact that the two so often go together is weird. The truth is that more often than not, cheese and wine really clash. Or at least they do nothing at all for each other.

The other weird thing is that we are more inclined to serve red wine than white wine with cheese. In actual fact white wines often go better with cheese than red wines – and sweet wines best of all!

You can certainly serve red wine with some cheeses, but in every case you need to choose both wine and cheese carefully.

· The sort of cheeses that go best with red wine are mild, young English hard cheeses such as young Cheddar and Wensleydale; Gruyere; and mature Gouda, which is fantastic with claret. Also try Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. The Zinfandel also goes very nicely with Mozzarella.

· For mature Cheddars and other strong cheeses like Provolone, try strapping red wines such as top Shiraz (Syrah), excellent Chianti or vintage port.

· Most people consider that blue cheeses, such as Rocquefort or Stilton, always go better with sweet wines, particularly Sauternes. Another recommended one is Hungarian Tokay Aszu (4-5 putt or sugar level). This is because the sweetness of the wine seems to work in contrast to the strong saltiness of the cheese. But, other people don’t delight in this combination!

· With strong, pungent cheeses like Taleggio or Pont l’Eveque, you might delight in a young full-bodied wine such as Merlot.

· Fine wines will be wasted on cheeses like Brie and Camembert, so don’t open a bottle specially. You really need to experiment with which wines complement such cheeses and vice versa. Some people consider a Chenin Blanc is very excellent with Camembert.

· Goat’s cheese really does NOT go with red wine. If the cheese is young and mild, try Sauvignon Blanc – the high acid in the wine matches perfectly with the acidity in the cheese. A tangy strong goat’s cheese like Crottin di Chavignol might like a white Burgundy.

There are two main things to bear in mind. First of all,
the above are just rough guidelines – everybody’s taste is different. So if you have the resources to experiment, keep trying new combinations and enjoying new surprises!

And finally, forget wine snobbery! Aim at providing what really tastes excellent rather than following accepted “rules”. That way, your guests will delight in themselves – and that’s what you really want!

Elaine Berry is the owner of Vintage Wine Associates, a small company for those who like wine and everything to do with it. For information about all aspects of wine and a selection of unique and original wine gifts, come and join us at myvintagewine.com myvintagewine.com

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