wine and cheese

Pairing Wine and Cheese

by Allison Ryan

Having people over for the holidays and want to impress them with a little wine and cheese pairing know-how, but you don’t even know where to start? Then you have come to the right place!

My husband and I love to have people over and treat our families to some tasty cheese, especially since we live in the heart of Ohio cheese country. Wine makes the perfect companion for cheese, but choosing the “right” cheeses to go with the “right” wine can sometimes be overwhelming.

Enjoying a good wine and a good cheese can enhance the flavors and complexities of both, however, not all cheeses and wines go together. Make sure you pick a wine that complements the flavors in your favorite cheese. Keep it simple by choosing a variety of the cheeses you enjoy from soft to very hard cheeses.

These suggestions will help you plan the perfect selections for your menu – my personal favorite selections include:

Soft Cheese Selection:
Brie has a mild flavor and creamy texture which makes Brie an excellent dessert cheese.

Brie is easily spread on your favorite bread or cracker and can also be served with jams or figs.

Pair with medium red wines like merlot, shiraz, or Spanish reds. For a non-alcoholic option, include white grape juice and coffee.

Semi-Soft Cheese Selection:
Muenster is a mild cheese and is delicious alone or on sandwiches. It even tastes great with grapes, apples or even your favorite tangy mustard.

Pair with sweet whites like Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Burgundy or Zinfandels are also good contrasting choices. For a non-alcoholic option serve apple cider!

Semi-Soft to Hard Cheeses:
Baby Swiss or smoked gouda these are two of my favorites so I can’t always pick just one! It’s my party…so sometimes I break the rules.

Baby Swiss has a slightly nutty flavor and although it goes with just about anything, I prefer it on whole wheat bread with peach chutney. It also tastes great with fresh peaches, melon or your favorite jam. Ohio is the birthplace of baby Swiss cheese and the number one producer of Swiss cheese in the U.S. It is pretty much a given that some variety of Swiss cheese will always be at my table!

Smoked Gouda has a prominent smoky flavor and almost melts in your mouth! I like it best when served on rye bread, but any fresh bread will do!

Both baby Swiss and smoked gouda can be served with fruity red wines, including white zinfandel, gamay, beaujolais, or pinot noir.

Hard Cheeses:
Cheddar is found in white or yellow varieties and is America’s favorite cheese! The longer the cheddar ages, the sharper the flavor. I prefer apples with my cheddar cheese, but grapes and pineapple are also good options.

Pair your cheddar with fruity red wines like try fruity gamay, beaujolais, or create a contrast with a fruity white riesling. A great non-alcoholic option is cranberry juice.

Very Hard Cheeses:
Romano aged cheese has a sharp flavor and a light golden brown color and is often grated over Italian dishes, however, it is great with grapes or a crusty flat bread!

Pair your Romano with big red wines like chianti, barbera, cabernet, or zinfandel and of course this cheese can also be paired with coffee or espresso for a non-alcoholic option.

Allison Ryan

Allison is the Senior Communication Manager for the American Dairy Association Mideast. Born and raised on her family’s dairy farm, Allison has a deep respect for agriculture. Allison and her husband, a large animal veterinarian, now live in Montezuma, Ohio with their sons Carter and Lane.

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