Pairing Starter Guide

Here is a list for all of you who want to try some wine with your cheese, but don’t know exactly what cheese goes with what wine. There are no hard and fast rules that must be strictly observed, but it helps to keep in mind some simple rules of thumb when choosing a wine:

  • The strength of the wine should be roughly equivalent to the strength of the cheese. Strong cheese = strong wine.
  • Cheeses with delicate flavor can be served with a greater number of wines than can strong flavored cheeses.
  • White wine works well with many cheeses.
  • Generally, cheeses and wines from the same area complement each other.

The following table will help you get started, but afterwards, feel free to experiment. The happiest marriages between cheese and wine are often found this way… Happy Tasting!

Wine List with Suggested Cheeses

Type of Wine

Examples

Cheeses

Light RedsTouraine, ChinonBrillat Savarin, Camembert, Cantal, Comté,Emmenthal, Mimolette, Morbier, Munster, Reblochon, St. Félicien,St. Marcellin, St. Nectaire, St. Maure, Tomme de Savoie
Medium RedsCote de Beaune, Pomerol, Savigny les Beaune, St. EmilionBeaufort, Brébis, Brie de Meaux, Brillat Savarin, Camembert, Cantal, Chabichou, Chaource, Emmenthal, Langres, Mimolette, Morbier, Pélardon, Pont l’Eveque, Reblochon, Rocamadour, St. Félicien, St. Marcellin, St. Nectaire, Salers, Tomme de Savoie
Strong RedsGigondas, Cote Rotie, Haut-Médoc, Cahors, BandolBleu d’Auvergne, Camembert, Epoisses, Fourme d’Ambert, Langres, Munster, Picodon, Pont l’Eveque, Roquefort, St. Nectaire, Salers
Light Dry WhitesSancerre, ChablisBrillat Savarin, Chabichou, Chaource, Comté, Crottin, Mimolette, Pélardon, Picodon, Puligny St. Pierre, Reblochon, Rocamadour, St. Félicien, St. Maure, Pyramide
Full Bodied Dry WhitesPuligny Montrachet, MeursaultBeaufort, Brébis, Comté, Crottin, Munster, Picodon, Puligny St. Pierre, Reblochon, St. Marcellin, St. Maure, Salers, Pyramide
Sweet WhitesSauternes, Juraçon, LoupiacBleu d’Auverne, Roquefort
RoséChaource, Comté, Picodon
ChampagneBrie, Camembert, Comté, Epoisses, Langres, Reblochon
BeerCamembert, Mimolette, Munster

FOOD TIP: COOKING WITH WINE

By Katherine Miller
of The Oregonian staff

A good bottle of wine is, by itself, good. So is a good meal.

But put them both together and the result is not only good, it’s great. A simple pleasure that soothes the soul and makes you glad to be alive.

Is it that simple? Yes, and no. While casual wine drinkers are finally realizing that Bacchus will not strike them dead if they drink white wine with steak, there are guidelines that will help make the most of both the food and the wine. Here are just a few tips.

  • If you like to serve cheese with wine to your guests, beware: David Rosengarten and Joshua Wesson, authors of “Red Wine With Fish,” say tannins are neutralized by the fat in cheese. The result? Most creamy, fatty cheeses — such as camembert — “will knock the stuffing out of most red wines,” making them taste flat and bland.

If you must pair red wine with cheeses, buy a dry, mild cheese and pair it with a rich, fruity young red.

Smelly or salty cheeses — particularly blue-veined types — also overwhelm red wine, say the authors.

  • If you plan to serve wine with a simple salad of mixed greens, try to use small amounts of a mild vinegar, or lemon juice, in the dressing. A vinegar that is too sharp can ruin the taste of a subtle, well-balanced wine.
  • As for the fish-with-white rule, Rosengarten and Wesson insist that simple fish dishes go as well with light reds as light whites. (Here in the Northwest, we’ve always known that salmon and pinot noir make a perfect pair.)

As for red-with-meat, the authors say “a well-done red meat, like lamb stew, is absolutely fabulous with a rich white.”

  • Chinese food presents some problems. While gewurztraminer is the usual recommendation (aside from beer and tea), Rosengarten and Wesson say that a hot and spicy dish with a salty brown sauce, like Hunan chicken, would go better with a merlot.
  • Pizza calls for a young, rustic chianti.
  • As for the ever-popular pasta, most people immediately think of red wine. Better to match the wine to the sauce, says Barbara Ensrud, author of “Wine With Food.” A meat sauce needs a sturdy red; cream sauces are better with a dry white like chardonnay; and a butter-and-garlic sauce pairs nicely with a light-bodied red.
  • And chocolate? There’s some disagreement on this topic. While the conventional wisdom says chocolate desserts go with wines like cabernet and zinfandel, Rosengarten and Wesson insist those wines turn thin and acidic with chocolate and that sweet dessert wines, like port or madeira, are better partners.

There’s no end to the learned opinions of experts on matching food and wine. But the most important thing to remember is that food and wine should be enjoyed, not turned into an academic exercise.

If you adore cabernet sauvignon with gorgonzola, be our guest.

You can reach Katherine Miller at 503-294-5157 or by e-mail at katherinemiller@news.oregonian.com. The fax number is 503-294-5045. The regular mailing address is 1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland, OR 97201.

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