Cheese-tasting parties may sound a little uppity, but the truth is, there are many reasons why you would want to hold one. For one, quality cheeses are really that good. While some cheeses are definitely an acquired taste, once you learn to appreciate their rich and layered flavors, nothing else compares.
But perhaps most importantly, holding a cheese-tasting party is an incredibly easy way to give guests a gourmet experience at nearly zero effort on your behalf. All you need to do is get the cheese, some wine to go with it. And that’s about it. Even pre-slicing the cheese isn’t always necessary.
But how do you pair cheese with the wine that best suits it? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Simply follow our simple guide, understand the logical underpinnings behind each pairing and then you can improvise and make your own pairings.
1. Blue cheese and Port
Blue cheeses such as Gorgonzola and Roquefort have a strong smell, sharp, nutty flavor, and a crumbly consistency. The strong and full flavors of blue cheese work particularly well with the likewise heavy and strong port wine and its powerful sweetness can help balance out the blue cheese’s pungency and high acidity.
2. Goat cheese and Sauvignon blanc
Goat cheese can come in all sorts of consistencies, but one thing that remains a constant is the tangy, earthy flavor. The unique flavor profile of goat cheese works particularly well with Sauvignon blanc, a white wine that has a light, refreshing and grassy taste to it.
3. Old Cheddar and Malbec
Both Cheddar and Malbec are incredibly popular, even among people who aren’t necessarily connoisseurs, but that is not to say that they don’t have a complex flavor. Cheddar has a firm consistency and a sharp, somewhat bitter flavor. Malbec is a type of red wine that originated in France but really took off in Argentina. It has a nice, full body with a fruity, tannin-heavy flavor. The fruity flavors of the Malbec really help smooth out the bitterness of the Cheddar, not eliminating it, but rather complementing it.
4. Morbier and Gewürztraminer
Unlike blue cheeses that have veins of penicillin mold all over, the single line across the Morbier is actually ash. Morbier is a particularly pungent cheese with a semi-soft, creamy texture. Contrary to its aroma, the cheese actually has a mild, fruity flavor. This works perfectly with Gewürztraminer, a type of white wine that is sweet and fruity enough to serve as a dessert wine, yet mild and complex enough to be enjoyed by the dandiest of wine-lovers.
5. Brie and Pinot noir
Brie is a particularly popular cheese, owing to its soft, creamy texture and buttery flavor. As a relatively mild, soft-bodied cheese, it is perfectly paired with the equally-mild and smooth Pinot noir.
6. Aged Gouda and Cabernet Sauvignon
Gouda is one of the most popular Dutch exports and is extremely enjoyable in its juvenile, nutty stage, but many cheese-lovers like it even better when it’s fully matured. Aged Gouda is hard and crystalized with a caramelized, sweet taste. Because of its bolder flavor profile, the strong, full-bodied and tannin-heavy Cabernet Sauvignon is a perfect pairing.
7. Manchego and Cava
Manchego is a uniquely Spanish cheese made of sheep milk. It has a rich, zesty, and salty flavor. Its intense flavors are sufficiently lightened with a delightfully refreshing glass of Spanish sparkling Cava.