What to do on those warm summer nights on the deck with your friends? Why not enjoy some wine and cheese? Here is your guide to impressing those wine connoisseurs with a few perfect wine and cheese pairings.
The task of creating the perfect wine and cheese combination may seem overwhelming due to the large variety of cheeses and wines available so let’s start with the basics. First you need to learn about the textures, flavors and moisture contents of cheese along with the flavors, acidity, and body of wines.
We will start with the cheese. There is a continuum from fresh and soft to hard and aged. The less-aged cheeses will have a higher water content and more of a milky texture. The process through which cheese ages is called affinage. As the cheese ages, the moisture evaporates leaving you with a higher fat and protein content than with a higher-water content cheese. The fats and proteins carry the bulk of the flavor, which is why aged cheeses are much bolder and stronger. The environment the cheese is aged in will also affect the flavor of the product.
The aging and flavor development process of wine is like cheese in that it runs on a continuum of light to bold. Younger wines are fresher and fruiter while more aged wines will gain secondary notes such as earth, umami, and oak.
As you may assume, younger wines can be paired with younger cheeses and the same goes for older wines with older cheeses. This is one of the first rules of pairing; use flavor intensity to pair.
There are other factors other than age that create great pairings. Another rule of thumb is that opposites attract. The sweeter wines blend well with saltier cheeses. Some salty cheese examples include Gouda and Feta.
Another factor to look at is the texture of both the cheese and wine. This one is a little more complicated as contrasting textures and opposite textures can both make great combinations. Creamy cheese will go wonderfully with white wines that are more buttery and oaky. On the other hand, the contrast between sparkling wine and a nice rich cheese will have you craving more. A combination that many enjoy is Champagne and Camembert.
The complexities of wine and cheese are endless and the one true way to find the best combinations is to experiment as much as you can. Talk to your local retailer for more tips and tricks on how to make the best combinations.