The Fundamental Red Wine & Cheese Pairing Guide

best red wine and cheese pairing

Red wine and cheese is a classic pairing combination. The complex flavor profiles of red wines make them a natural accompaniment for bold, full-flavored cheeses and accompaniments like charcuterie and olives. We also tend to reach for red wines in winter—perhaps as part of a holiday cheese gift with a pungent hunk of blue or Parmigiano. 

Light to medium-bodied reds such as Pinot Noir and Syrah are both safe choices for pairing with cheese. Keep reading to learn about our favorite red wine and cheese pairings. 

red wine blend

The Seeker Red Blend 

Grapes: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 25% Syrah

This spicy red wine blend from the Colchagua and Maipo Valleys works wonderfully with meaty cheeses with a buttermilk tang.  The wine is round and generous, with velvety tannins surrounding flavors and aromas of blackberry, cherry, and vanilla that linger on the finish.

Cheeses to Pair With:

new zealand red wine

CRAGGY RANGE Te Kahu Gimblett Gravels Vineyard

Grapes: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Merlot
The fruit in this New Zealand Cabernet Sauvignon blend is vibrantly fruity. The aroma and flavor profile of the wine is complex - with notes of blackberry, cinnamon, and minerals. The tannins are delicate, providing structure to the wine but no overpowering the flavor profile, making it a great cheese pairing wine.

Cheese to Pair With: 
  • Semi-Firm to Firm Sheep Cheese with a Natural Rind, preferably a basque style, like Vermont Shepherd's Invierno.  This style of cheese is buttery, robust in milk fat, and rich with notes of caramel and honey and the wine's fruitness brings out the blackberry notes of each.
  • Semi-Firm to Firm Cow Cheese with a Natural or Washed Rind, preferably an alpine style like Pleasant Ridge Reserve or Beaufort.

best merlot for cheese


 Grapes: 100% Merlot

This Sonoma County 100% Merlot should counteract any bad press Merlot has received after the infamous scene in the movie, SidewaysThe wine is smooth and elegant with classic flavors and aromas of cherry, chocolate and plum, which make it an excellent decadent pairing with a dense, nutty cheese and dark chocolate.

Cheese to Pair With: 

the best lambrusco

Medici Ermete Lambrusco I Quercioli Dolce 

Grapes: 100% Lambrusco

This effervescent sweet red wine is beautiful with blue and triple cream cheeses.  It's aggressive bubbles lift rich, buttery cheeses off the palate so they dance in your mouth. From the Reggio Emilia province, the grapes are a blend of Lambrusco Salamino and Lambrusco Marani.

Cheese to Pair With: 

  • Triple Cream Cow Cheese like Delice de Bourgogne or Brillat Savarin.
  • Balanced Blue Cheeses like Bayley Hazen Blue and Fourme D'Ambert.

the best Portuguese port

Fonseca Bin 27 Porto

Grapes: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Tinta Amarela

Port is a magical pairing for cheese, and this particular bottle from Portugal is aged for four years in neutral wood vats before bottling. This sweet wine tastes of fresh, rich blackberry and cassis. It has a balanced structure, with a velvety, luscious mouthfeel and smooth tannins.

Cheese to Pair With: 

  • Triple Cream Cow Cheese like Delice de Bourgogne or Brillat Savarin. Make sure there are nice and ripe.
  • Firm, Flavorful Farmhouse Cheddar like Cabot Clothbound or Keen's.
  • Balanced Blue Cheeses like Bayley Hazen BlueFourme D'Ambert, and Stilton.

How Should Red Wine Be Served? 

Red wines should be warmer than the refrigerator but not necessarily room temperature.  62 to 68 degrees F is best, with certain red wines like the Lambrusco better served between 57 and 59, due to its effervescence. 

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 notes of blackberry are prevalent in both the cheese and wine, consider adding blackberries to the serving board in order to enhance the experience even further.  

How Should You Store Your Cheese in Fall and Winter?

These is the time of year to store The Cheese Grotto on the kitchen counter, serving the cheese over 7 to 10 days, since the kitchen stays at under 70 degrees F. It is recommended to move cheese to a refrigerator for weeks or month-long storage.  The Grotto will regulate the humidity and airflow so that the cheese stays fresh for months in the fridge. 
how to pair red wine and cheese
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    Jessica Sennett is the founder and inventor of Cheese Grotto. Her whole life is cheese - seriously.

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