What to drink with cheese . . .

Oh the list is endless, needless to say if you like to drink something with some particular cheese then do it!
Don’t worry about what people tell you, everyone is different with our own tastebuds, of course there are suggested options that pair well but if their not to your liking do you own thing!

Here is what I’ve found works for me over the years, of course you may differ but that’s ok.

We’ll, start by working our way down the cheeses and I’ll suggest cheeses from the list that I personally think works best.

FRESH CHEESES

These are cheeses which have been produced and have had no aging, so no more than a week old and to be enjoyed soon after production. Like Mozzarella, Ricotta etc.

WHAT?

WINE
A fresh wine like a fruity Sancerre or refreshing Rose
BEER
A light refreshing crisp ale like a lager
CIDER
A fresh apple cider with a little sweetness
FORTIFIED
A Spanish Sherry with a little sweetness
SAKE
Either a dry refreshing Junmai Ginjo or a sweeter Umeshu

WHY?


With such fresh cheeses and gentle flavours it’s best to not have anything too overpowering. Anything with a crisp refreshing mouth feel that’ll match nicely with a gentle delicate flavoured cheese

WHITE MOULD CHEESE

All Brie & Camembert cheeses are classified as white mould cheeses, as well as triple cream Bries. But here they have been put into their own category below.
White mould cheeses are the most versatile of all the cheeses, they marry well with numerous beverages.

WHAT?

WINE
White wine of a dry and fruity nature such as Sauvignon Blanc & Rose
Dry barrel oaked wines such as Chardonnay
Full bodied red wines such as Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon
BEER
Crisp refreshing Pilsner style cheeses
Dark full bodied beers
CIDER
Classic savoury Normandy Cider
FORTIFIED
Port or Sherry
SAKE
Like wine, from the dry minerality to the sweet dessert wine style

WHY?

With a delicate interior of the cheese it pairs well with dry wines
More robust Bries such as Brie de Meaux can handle the stronger full bodied red wines
Fresh crisp beers can withstand the stronger style Bries & Camemberts
Dark heavier beers can give a coffee/chocolate & cream effect
Camembert & Cider both hail from Normandy making them a perfect match
The sweetness of a fortified can pair wonderfully with the creaminess of a white mould cheese
Sake like wine, will pair with all manor of white mould cheeses

CHEVRE/ FRESH GOATS CHEESES

The dry crumbly citrusy cheeses such as any Holy Goat cheeses from Victoria.
Or classic French Goats cheeses from the Loire valley such as the ash coated St. Maure, or Chabichou du Poitou.

WHAT?

WINE
A fruity wine, such as a Sancerre, Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Un-oaked Chardonnay or fruity Rose.
An equally fruity sparkling wine such as a Champagne or sparkling wine from the Loire valley.
A sweet dessert wine, like a Late harvest Botrytis or similiar.
CIDER
French Cider, these tend to have more savoury apple notes than the sweeter versions outside of France
BEER
A crisp fresh Pilsner, Wheat beer with more malty notes such as a Kronenbourg Blanc.
SAKE
Junmai Ginjo – A fruity and semi dry Sake, similiar to a Sauvignon blanc

WHY?

All of the above suggestions match the gentle acidity and fruity notes in these cheeses
Sancerre is France’s Sauvignon Blanc and grows in the Loire valley.
The Loire Valley was originally the home of French Sparklings, until the Champagne region became the largest producer. Hence the name, Champagne now being well known as French Sparkling.
The dessert wine would give a lovely contrasting flavour to the goats cheese, much the same way as you’d drizzle some honey over Goats cheese.

goats

WASHED RIND GOATS CHEESE

Or strong soft goat’s cheeses, such as a Mothais sur feuille, which is matured in very high humidity and gives way to a softer, creamy fudgey interior. These cheeses when aged can have quite a punch to them, leaving the gentle acidity behind and bringing forth more of a zing on the palate.

WHAT?

WINE
A sweet dessert wine as you would with a fresh crisp goats cheese.
A robust red wine such as a Pinot Noir, but try to steer clear of anything with too much tannin such as a Cabernet.
FORTIFIED
A fortified such as an aged Port or a Spanish Sherry such as a Pedro Ximenez.
WHISKY
A whisky, such as a Japanese or Scottish Whisky variety. Possibly not an American Whisky as the smokiness can over power the cheese I find.
BEER
A classic Pale Ale, with a hoppy finish.
SAKE
Umeshu – A sweet dessert Sake, with a sweet yet slight sourness.

WHY?

With such a tang to these cheeses they behave similarly to a washed rind so you can pair them with something more robust to bring forth their subtleties.
The sweet wine and fortified will mellow the tang.
A whisky will bring forth the smokiness.
The red wine and Pale Ale will enhance the sweet leaving a creamy texture.

Be wary of red wine with non aged goats cheeses, the wines tannin and the cheeses acidity create a very unpleasant mouth feel. Be sure to taste your combination first before unleashing it on your guests!

Mothais sur feuille
Mothais sur feuille

WASHED RIND CHEESES

Generally your smellier cheeses, with a sticky rind due to the washing during its maturing period. These cheeses are best eaten and smelt little, they have an oozy texture that coats the palate. Created by the monks who used to eat these cheeses on their ‘fasting days’, which is why sometimes these cheeses are referred to as having a meaty texture!
Such things as Epoisse, Taleggio and Raclette are the most well known.

WHAT?

WINE
Washed rind cheeses are best with a dry fruity white wine such as a Gruner Vetliner with a savoury finish.
A sweet Sauternes lends well to these cheeses.
BEER
With these cheeses having such a strong taste, and softer washed rind a yeasty taste, they lend well to heavy Trappist beers such as Chimay or a light Stout (Porter).
CIDER
Depending on the strength of the cheese a Cider can be a pleasant pairing.

WHY?

Epoisse is washed in a pomace brandy, so best paired with the same. The ‘meaty’ texture lends well to such strong flavours. Also from Burgundy, so the old adage what grow together goes together. It brings forward the creamy texture.
Raclette being from more Alpine areas, the local wines tend to be more minerally which match the savoury character of the cheese.
A sweet wine would hide a little of the punch whilst still allowing the flavours to penetrate.
A savoury cider would allow for a little sweetness contrasting with the cheese whilst also allowing the full flavours to come though.
The monks were the ones to play with cheese and created their Trappist beers, both having yeasty notes, they really do marry well together.

http://www.european-food-journal.com/bieres_de_chimay_sa/portrait/
chimay and cheese

SEMI HARD GOAT’S CHEESES

Such as the Dutch Wyngaard Chevre, Midnight Moon or Queso de Cabra from Spain
These aged semi hard goats cheeses still have a little of the goats cheese acidity but also have a more mellow sweetness that comes through the cheese and a fudgey texture in the mouth

WHAT?

WINE
A dry fruity wine such as a Gewurztraminer, or similar sparkling wine.
Sweet dessert wine with Pineapple notes, or try a more gentle fruity Riesling or Chablis with a savoury finish.
BEER
A crisp Pilsner or Wheat beer.
SAKE
Umajun Junmai – a nutty savoriness and yet a gentle citrus note.

WHY?

A sparkling wine to bring forward the cheeses sweetness.
Dessert wine to match the sweetness with the acidity of the Goats cheese.
Beer to refresh the palate with crisp bubbles
Sake to provide lively vanilla notes and finish with a crisp citrus to contrast the sweetness.

Learn more about Sake pairing here . . .
http://ringofirefly.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/for-cheese-and-chilled-sakes-sake.html

sake

TRIPLE CREAM CHEESES

These cheeses are not for your faint hearted. Most definitely creamy and with minimum 70% fat content it’s not a cheese I recommend eating everyday. But, we have some wonderful suggestions on how to tone down that creamy mouth feel when you cant help but to over indulge!
So, whether you’re into your Brillat Savarin, Delice de Bourgogne or many of the other incarnations, this one is for you!

WHAT?

This type of cheese matches with so many things its hard to narrow down, but here are some of the ways I’ve enjoyed
it. . .

WINE
A dry classic French Champagne
A light fruity Rose, to bring forth memories of ‘strawberries & cream’
A sweet dessert wine such as a Vouvray
For something more heavy this cheese stands up to a full bodied Cabernet
BEER
A crisp refreshing Pilsner
A heavy Stout, try a Chocolate Stout ‘chocolate & cream’
CIDER
A full flavoured apple cider with gentle sweetness, I prefer the Sidra del Verano from Spain
FORTIFIED
With a Tawny Port or for a sweeter version try a Spainish Sherry, Pedro Ximenez
WHISKY
A blended malt whisky from Speyside in Scotland, called Monkey Shoulder
SAKE
Umeshu – A sweet dessert Sake, with a sweet yet slight sourness.

WHY?

A Sparkling with lots of bubbles helps to cut through the richness of the cheese
Whilst I’m not a huge fan of dark beers, this is like a chocolate and beer cream delight.
However the bubbles in a Pilsner lightens the cheese cutting through the richness.
The sweetness in the Port helps the cheese feel like a all in one dessert luxury
This particular Whisky has a lovely mellow sweetness that pairs so marvelously with this cheese.
A fruity Sake reminiscent of a dessert wine.

brillat savarin cheese

SEMI HARD CHEESES

So, now we’re talking of cheeses such as Ossau Iraty, Chebris & Alpine cheeses such as Uplands pleasant ridge from America, or France’s Comte & Beaufort . . . Manchego which we’ll come to later.
Some of these cheeses are made during certain times of the year but for arguments sake were going to put them into this category for now!

WHAT?

WINE
Classically a dry fruity white wine pairs best with Alpine cheeses such as a Vin Jaune
Fruity full bodied red wines have their place too
BEER
Belgium Pilsners, with a crisp finish or Pale Ale with more hoppy notes
FORTIFIED
Tawny Port or local Topaques
SAKE
Karakuchi – with a minerality and upfront fruity notes, perfect for complex cheese flavour profiles

WHY?

Vin Jaune made in the Comte region (what grows together, goes together)
Ossau Iraty used to have such a pungent aroma/taste that heavy red wines were used to mask the cheese. Thankfully this is no longer the case however the tradition still remains and with its fudgey texture pairs quite well with a fruity full bodied Pinot Noir.
Belgium beers are fruity enough whilst having enough savoury notes to match the complex cheeses
Ports with their sweetness bring out the more savoury notes of these cheeses
Karakuchi Sake, with its minerality makes it a perfect fit for savoury cheeses bring out out its subtle flavours

CLOTH AGED CHEDDAR

Talking of classic British cloth bound cheeses (although there are some great American ones too known as ‘bandaged wrapped’) such as Cabot. These are drier and crumblier than your supermarket versions with a tang that lingers on the palate due to the cheese being aged for 12 months or more

WHAT?

WINE
Depending on the strength of the cheese, a hearty red wine such as a Shiraz
A dry oak smoked chardonnay
BEER
A bold brown ale
FORTIFIED
A Tawny port
SAKE
Umeshu, a sweeter style fruity sake

WHY?

A hearty red wine can match the the strength of a sharp cheddar without becoming overpowering
The oaked Chardonnay will match the dryness of the cheese bringing out the grassy notes
Unless you have an Isle of Mull cheese which has strong whisky overtones so a whiskey would be best!
A full strength beer would match the cheddar without being too strong, what grows together goes together. British Cheddars are best with hearty British ales.
The sweetness of a fortified Port or Umeshu sake contrasts with the sharp cheddar bringing forth other subtle nutty flavours

BUTTERY SOFTER CHEDDARS

Gentle Cheddars such as Cantal, Barbers Cheddar or Double Gloucester which have a more buttery texture and softer notes.

WHAT?

WINE
A fresh fruity wine from the same region
BEER
A crisp pilsner style beer
CIDER
A crisp savoury cider, not too sweet
WHISKY
A blended malt whisky from Speyside in Scotland, called Monkey Shoulder

WHY?

The wine would contrast the butteriness of the cheese bringing other flavours through
A Pilsner style beer would cut through the buttery notes with its refreshing bubbles
A refreshing French style savoury cider to contrast the butter notes
This particular Whisky has a lovely mellow sweetness that pairs so marvelously with this cheese.

MANCHEGO

A sheeps milk cheese, these generally have a natural oiliness to them with hazelnut overtones

WHAT?

WINE
A big bold red wine with heavy tannins
Local Rioja wine
BEER
Spanish beer from the La Mancha region with malty notes
FORTIFIED
Spanish Sherry
White Spanish Port
CIDER
Sweeter Spanish cider like a Sidra del Verano

WHY?

Manchego is a cheese that pairs wonderfully with heavy tannin red wines and compliment each other
The malty notes of the beer pair beautifully with the nuttiness in the cheese
Spanish Sherry with its sweeter notes brings out the subtler cheese notes
A savoury Spanish white Port would match the savoury notes of the cheese allowing others to come to the fore
The sweeter Spanish cider contrasting the savoury notes of the cheese

AGED GOUDAS

Aged Goudas have been aged for 12 months or more and as they age the flavours intensify from a caramel sweetness to a grainy salty texture.

WHAT?

WINE
Riesling or something floral
Champagne or something bubbly
FORTIFIED
Sherry
SAKE
Karakuchi – with a minerality and upfront fruity notes

WHY?

The floral notes will mellow out the intense sweetness
The bubbles will have the same effect as above
Sherry will match the cheeses sweetness and contrast its saltiness
The Sake with its minerality will match perfectly for complex cheese flavour profiles

BLUE CHEESES

Blue cheeses tend to vary in strength but have a saltiness throughout the pate with a strong smell

WHAT?

WINE
A sweet dessert wine with fruity pineapple notes
A dessert wine, like a Late harvest Botrytis or similiar.
BEER
Full bodied Pale Ale
FORTIFIED
Port or Muscat
Spanish Sherry like a Pedro Ximenez
WHISKY
Glen Garioch

WHY?

The sweetness mellows the saltiness of the cheese
The beer will match the strength of the cheese allowing other notes to come to the fore
The sweetness of the fortifieds pair to bring forth the gentle blue cheese flavours
This whisky has lovely vanilla notes with a gentle smokiness that matches with the cheeses intensity

Be wary of red wine with some blue cheeses, the wines tannin and the cheeses react to create a very unpleasant mouth feel, Metallic almost. Be sure to taste your combination first before unleashing it on your guests!

FLAVOURED HARD CHEESES

Such things as a coffee rubbed rind Bella Vitano American cheese, spiced Cumin Gouda, Isle of Mull Cheddar

WHY?

These cheeses are interesting as they have so many options due to their flavourings

BELLA VITANO ESPRESSO (coffee rubbed)
Pair with either a coffee or caramel flavoured drink to match the cheese
or a crisp wine or beer to contrast

CUMIN GOUDA
Pair with either a spiced Rum or Whisky to match the cheese
or a sweeter fruity wine like a Riesling to contrast

ISLE OF MULL CHEDDAR
This cheese is made with the milk of cows which are fed some of the leftover draff from the local whisky distillery.
Pair with a local Whisky to match the cheese
or a crisp refreshing white wine like Sauvignon Blanc to contrast

Bella Vitano Espresso

No matter what you enjoy, there is no wrong or right answers. You’ll be amazed just how much the cheeses can change with what you pair with them.
Everybody has different tastebuds!
Enjoy