When it comes to wine and cheese pairings, we tend to focus on funky, pungent wheels with flavors that develop over a long aging period. But fresh cheeses like chevre, ricotta, mozzarella, and mascarpone also make great playmates with wines while showcasing the quality and seasonality of the milk they’re made from. These cheeses also offer lighter textures and flavor profiles that are perfect for summer—and even better, they’re super simple to make at home.
Here are some of our favorite ways to pair fresh cheeses with wine, whether you’re making your own or picking some up from your favorite local farmer or cheese shop. You can learn to make your very own fresh ricotta and mozzarella at our Virtual Italian Cheesemaking Class, hosted by Steve Walano of FarmSteady and Cheese Grotto founder Jessica Sennett, on July 25th—which just happens to be National Wine and Cheese Day! Get your tickets here.
Chèvre and Wine Pairings
This fresh French goat cheese has its roots in the Loire Valley, so it’s no wonder that it pairs beautifully with Sauvignon Blanc, especially Sancerre and other bright, crisp white wines from the region. Crisp white wines with bright acidity like Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Gruner Vetliner, and Riesling highlight chevre’s citrusy notes while cutting through the creaminess. Dry rosé wines also work well with fresh goat cheeses, as do sparkling whites and rosés.
Ricotta and Wine Pairings
Milky and slightly sweet, ricotta—whether the traditional custard-y type made primarily with whey or the rich, spreadable whole-milk variety—makes an excellent canvas for flavors from juicy seasonal fruits to savory sauces. We’ll learn how to make it in our July 25th cheesemaking class with FarmSteady.
Whether you’re topping toast with a swoop of ricotta, peach slices, and a drizzle of honey or serving the cheese with fresh or roasted veggies, you’ll want something light to sip with it. Reach for the Riesling here—sweet or dry both work—or other crisp white wines, including those with strong fruit notes. Other options include dry rosé wines and light-bodied, low-tannin red wines.
Mozzarella and Wine Pairings
This is another cheese that can be served simply—with nothing more than slices of heirloom tomato, glug of good olive oil, and a pinch of flaky sea salt—or play along with many different flavors and textures, from crisp-crusted cast-iron pizza to grilled cheese filled with pesto and stuffed fried zucchini blossoms. Want to stretch it yourself? We’ll teach you on July 25th!
Once again, crisp, acidic white wines are a go-to here—not only because they work well with mozzarella’s lactic flavor profile, but also because they’re easy to pair with light, summery dishes like caprese salads. Mozzarella also pairs nicely with dry sparkling wines like Champagne and prosecco and unoaked, low-tannin reds like fizzy Lambrusco.
Mascarpone and Wine Pairings
Thick and luscious mascarpone—sort of an Italian triple-cream version of fromage blanc—is the perfect way to show off summer produce in desserts from cheesecakes to custards and ice creams. It’s also super easy to make from scratch with our recipe—all you need is heavy cream and lemon juice.
Since it’s so rich—and because dessert should be a celebration!—mascarpone goes beautifully with bubbly. Serving mascarpone is also a great reason to bust out a bottle of light, fruity dessert wine: think sweet, slightly fizzy Moscato or juicy, bubbly Lambrusco.
What are some of your favorite ways to pair summer wines and fresh cheeses? Let us know!