There’s a reason cheeses are the most common nosh at a wine tasting. It’s science, it’s tradition, it’s a simple fact — wine’s fruit, acid, and body love cheese’s fatty richness and salt, and vice versa. It’s a great way to explore the ABCs of food and wine pairing: like with like, balancing opposites, and “if it grows together, it goes together.”
In celebration of National Cheese Lovers’ Day, we’re visiting France, Spain, and Italy for a cheese and wine side-by-side that can take you on a journey from the comfort of your couch.
Blanc x Chèvre
Can the zang of French goat cheese play nice with the zip of French Sauvignon Blanc? Yup! Classic to the pairing rule of compliments, the earthy cream and tartness of your standard chèvre will easily buddy up to a Sauvignon Blanc’s high acid and herbaceousness. Château Puyanché adds a dose of Bordeaux favorite, Sémillon, to broaden that grassy Sauv Blanc character with a little body and a complexity that can be coaxed out with food. Try it with a bold goat cheese to turn up the volume on notes of green pear, chive, white peach, basil, and soft florals.
Moscato d’Asti x Gorgonzola
Moscato and Gorgonzola have opposite reputations on the playground, but the demure, peachy sweetness of Moscato is actually a charming counterpart to Gorgonzola’s funk. If you have a hard time cozying up to bleus, Moscato’s cleansing abilities can help in making veiny cheese more approachable. 90+ Cellars Moscato d’Asti has a lightly fruity profile, its soft bubble and cleansing dose of tart citrus cutting through rich gorgonzola, the cheese bringing out more tropical and orchard flavors than the wine shows at first sip.
Rioja Reserva x Manchego
Rioja and Manchego are so in harmony you could make this pairing a vertical tasting. Both Spanish mainstays benefit from age, developing more complex and savory flavors with time. Bodegas Olarra’s Cerro Añon Rioja Reserva, aged 20 months in barrel and an extra 18 in bottle, sheds much of its baby fruit in lieu of earthy cured meat aromas, reduced balsamic, and tomato leaf. Likewise, a 6-year Manchego vs a 3-year will become sharper, earthier, and more nutty in flavor. Try them together and it’s tough to tell where one delicious ends and the other begins.
-Aimee Hutchinson | Wine Manager Top Ten Liquors