Spring White Wine & Cheese Pairing Guide


how to pair white wine and cheese

 

White Wine + Cheese: An Unusual Love Affair 

White wine is not always seen as a traditional pairing to cheeses. The delicate quality of some white wine makes it a little more challenging to find balance in a cheese pairing. Getting the right balance simply requires an understanding of the flavor profile, body of the white wine, and its cheese counter part.  Below are some of explorations of the many facets of the white wine, Pinot Grigio, and the cheeses that compliment them.

different ages of goat cheese

Cheese: Goat Cheese

Wine: Light-bodied Pinot Grigio/Verduzzo White Wine Blend (i.e. Masi Masianco 2017)  

    This wine is light and clean in the flavor, and works with a variety of goat cheeses of different ages. The wine highlights the grassy qualities of a fresh chèvre, and brightens the flavor profile.  A soft-ripened goat cheese, like Vermont Creamery's Bijou or a classic crottin, has mineral and floral notes with a rind the flavor of white button mushrooms.  The wine's clean quality emphasizes the floral characteristics and mineral characteristics, and brightens the cheese's signature earthiness. 

    A goat gouda aged 6 to 8 months, like Brabander and Midnight moon is also a classic pairing,  These goudas often have a sweet, caramelized note with a creamy, semi-firm texture. The wine subdues the caramel characteristic and highlights the floral notes of the cheese. The age and body of the cheese provide a silky mouthfeel with the wine. A more aged gouda may prove too dense and dry for the Masi.  Along a similar category, a natural rind goat milk aged 1 to 2 months, like the Spanish Garrotxa is lactic, semi-firm, woodsy, with notes of hazelnuts and sweet cashews. 


    Cheese: Briney, Salty Cheeses

    Wine: Medium-bodied Funky and Mineral Pinot Grigio White Wine (i.e. Pighin Friuli Grave Pinot Grigio 2017) 

      This wine, full of funk and minerality, lends itself to cheese that is slightly more game-y, brine-y, or full-bodied.  Feta from Greece works well because of its salty, tangy flavor. Semi-soft cow milk washed rinds aged up to two months, like Jasper Hill Farm's Willoughby or Taleggio cheese, are recommended.  They are washed in brine (salt and water solution) during the aging process, and so they have a signature full-bodied, meaty flavor (i.e. lamb cooked in butter) with a bite of salt and brown mushrooms. 

      A similar salty, slightly lanolin flavor profile from aged pecorinos (sheep milk cheese) like Moliterno also work here. Creamy blues, such as Buttermilk Blue from Roth Cheese, work well with this medium-bodied wine as they are not too piquant, with the perfect amount of funk and minerality to match the wine. A sweet pairing that works well is cheese caramel by Call Me Caramel.  The umami and salt characteristic of the caramel are brightened and emphasized, and the pear notes of the wine is a natural fruity pairing for cheese caramel.


      gruyere cheese and pinot grigio

      Cheese: Multiple

      Wine: Full-Bodied Pinot Grigio with a High Minerality (i.e. Bollini Pinot Grigio 2016) 

        This is a cheese's wine.  Its minerality is more pronounced than the other two wines, making it and excellent pairing for a wide variety of cheeses.  Fresh chèvre's natural creaminess and notes of lemon works beautifully with the wine, and together they bring out additional flavors like roasted peach and poached pear. Washed rind cheeses of all different ages, moisture-level, and wash pair very well.  The wine inherently has some funk to it, and there are similar qualities on the nose of the wine as there are on the nose of washed rind cheese.  Willoughby to raclette to comté cheese are highlighted with additional notes of fruit and walnuts when paired with this wine.

        A salty pecorino like Moliterno brings out the floral characteristics of the wine and an experience that can be described as effervescent and frizzantino, even without a sparkling wine. The cheese caramel by Call Me Caramel brings out a lemon-drop characteristic in the wine and finished clean.  The creamy blue, Buttermilk Blue from Roth, brings out the lactic quality in both the cheese and the wine. 


          how to pair white wine and cheese

          How should white wine be served?

          White wines should be chilled when served, ideally between 49-55 degrees.  At the warmer temperatures in that range, some of the bolder flavors or the white wine comes to the surface. 

          Where can I buy these wines?

          Enter the wine name and your zip code in this handy wine store locator search engine.

          How should cheese be served?

          Cheeses should be served at room temperature, below 70 degrees.  If you do not store your cheese in a Cheese Grotto at 70 or below, then you should take your cheese out of the refrigerator at least an hour beforehand. The flavors and textures of cheese open up the more it warms up, so you can really maximize the pairing experience.

          My rule of thumb is to serve from mildest to strongest in flavor, so that you can do each cheese justice.  Also, you can dress up the cheese board with accouterments that serve to enhance the wine and cheese pairing.  For example, if goat cheese tastes of poached pear and roasted peach with the Bollini, consider adding those two the the serving board in order to enhance the experience even further.  

          How should a you store cheeses in the spring and summer?

          Since it is best to store cheese at below 70 degrees F, it is recommended to move cheese to a cool cellar or a refrigerator for longterm storage.  The Grotto will regulate the humidity and airflow so that the cheese stays fresh for months in the fridge. 

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