How to create perfect wine and cheese pairings
Wine and cheese - two utterly delicious things! But how do you put them together? We spoke to Greg Parsons, owner of Sharpham Cheese, about how to create the perfect pairing
A beginning rule, Greg explains, is to choose wine and cheese from the same region.
“At Sharpham we talk about ‘what grows together goes together’ and there certainly seems to be something in the South Devon soil that helps our wines and cheeses to work together well,” he says.
As advocates of British produce, we strongly recommend using English wines and British cheeses in your pairings!
Greg explains that knowing when a cheese and wine pair well is a very individual one.
“Like anything in life, if you keep going back for more it’s a good one!” he says.
In terms of flavour combinations, Greg believes that it’s important to create a pairing that’s pleasantly different from the products when tasted on their own.
“I once conducted a sizeable cheddar and cider tasting event and the best ones were where both the ‘fruit and savoury’ and sweetness and acidity’ notes were very well balanced,” he explained.
Although tastes might be individual, different wines undeniably work better with certain types of cheese. Greg outlines some of the most successful pairings, and why they work. It won’t be long before you can select the perfect type of cheese to accompany your glass of wine!
Red Wines & Strong Cheeses
The general rule is the stronger and darker the cheese the bigger and darker the wine. White wine loses itself to a strong, mature cheese; the cheese’s butterfat coats the palate, blocking the wine’s flavour. Full-bodied wines, with notes of dark fruit, are delicious with aged cheeses.
“Normally, I would select a fairly robust, semi-hard cheese to go with red wines, such as a traditional sharp cheddar, a tasty Cornish gouda or even a Cornish kerne. The savory notes and sweet notes from the cheese counter the berry fruit and tannins, resulting in a warm and comforting mouthfeel with rich complex flavours, ” Greg explains.
Meanwhile, semi-soft cheeses (with a texture similar to Port Salut) have a sweet - savoury character and elastic, semi-soft texture that works well with light, fruity reds. The firmer, more distinctly flavoured ones need a Chianti or a Cabernet Sauvignon. Adding a little bit of acidity to the cheese - perhaps through a tomato relish or a gherkin - really enhances the pairing.
For a more summery idea, Greg recommends pairing red wine with goat cheese - the grassy notes of this sharp cheese work well with medium-bodied red wine.
“Take Sharpham Pinot Noir (when available) which is light and delicate and enjoy it with Sharpham Ticklemore Goat Cheese and you get a delightful ‘summery’ experience and could easily help you to while away a sunny afternoon!” he says.
While some soft cheeses work better with whites, the more meaty, savoury soft cheeses prefer a full-bodied, oaked white or soft tannin red like Pinot Noir.
White Wines & Light Fresh Cheeses
Greg explains that the dryness and higher acidity in most white wines pairs well with soft cheese.
“The dryness and higher acidity in most white wines are fantastic at ‘cutting through’ the rich ‘fattiness’ of soft cheeses and provoke a very satisfying experience, completed by a delightful residual hint of fruit. This is certainly the case when you bring together our legendary Sharpham Brie and Dart Valley Reserve wines, ” he says.
Light, fresh and fatty cheeses such as mozzarella and queso fresco pair well with fresh, light, crisp white wines like Sauvignon Blanc.
Meanwhile, aged fresh cheeses - which are nutty, sharp and creamy - prefer dry white wines with some acidity.
Sparkling Wine & Mouth-Coating Cheeses
Rich, incredibly creamy cheeses that coat the mouth work very well with sparkling wine. A double cream bloomy rind cheese has earthy notes that pair best with a yeasty and fruity sparkling like a classic Champagne or Prosecco - we highly recommend Camel Valley Brut, made in Cornwall.
Sweet Wines & Blue Cheese
Blue, semi-soft cheeses have a salty tang and old socks aroma. These salty cheeses pair excellently with sweet wine such as Muscat. These sweeter wines create a ‘marriage of opposites’, and emphasises the hidden sweetness of these pungent cheeses.
So, here’s a brief rundown of what we’ve covered:
Acid likes acid
Fruit likes fruit
Weight needs weight or complete contrast
Sweet kills acidity
Combining is to do with tastes and textures
The whiter and fresher the cheese, the whiter and crisper the wine
The darker and stronger the cheese, the darker and heavier the wine
And Greg has couple of cheeky alternatives …
“Try our Pinot Noir Rose with Sharpham Cremet and you get a dessert like experience which is irresistibly moreish!”
“Take a bitesize chunk of good quality blue cheese (I use Devon Blue) followed by a gulp of stout (the Irish are pretty good at this, but Salcombe brewery do a good one). The result … a velvety milk chocolate sensation, weird but delicious!”
Head over to sharphamcheese.co.uk to pick up some delicious Devon-produced cheese and wine!
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