Whenever I think of cheese and wine pairing my mind strangely turns to the hilarious cheese shop sketch by Monty Python. I say strangely because the sketch does not mention wine once in the entire five minutes but does refer to just about every cheese type available in the world.
Perhaps therein lies the problem with successfully pairing cheese and wine – too many choices for the former and not enough attention paid to the latter.
The inherent similarities between wine and cheese make them technically ideal partners for pairing.
The most obvious of course is that they both commence life as natural agricultural products, namely grapes and milk. In the case of cheese, the milk can be from cows, sheep, goats, yaks and the like but it is still milk.
This raw product is influenced in both cases by the prevailing terroir – the local land, conditions and climate.
The next commonality rests with the art of developing the end products, either wine or cheese.
Both the wine maker and the cheese maker can exert enormous influence over their respective end products through their choice of technique, added products, length of maturation and many other factors which reflect their talent and the quality of the materials they are working with.
So when the fermented curd and the fermented grape are both ready for our tasting, the challenge to find the best combination is often best achieved by experimentation.
Just bear in mind that cheese is high in protein and this softens the tannins in the wine.
Cheese and Wine Pairing Tips
The harder types of cheese, like Cheddar or Parmesan can work well with more tannic wines (like red wines). Tannin is that drying taste in your mouth from drinking red wines that may remind you of strong tea or unripe bananas. Red wines get these tannins from the grape skins, seeds, stems and/or the aging barrels.
Creamy cheeses, like Camembert or Brie, typically pair better with wines that have more acidity and lower tannins like a Chardonnay or a Pinot Noir.
Salty cheeses need a sweet wine partner, like the delicious combination of blue cheese and port. Read the complete wine and cheese article here.
So by following these basic cheese and wine pairing tips, you will indeed have a happy ending to your tasting experience, unlike the cheese shop owner in the aforementioned sketch which you can watch below for a bit of fun.