This cheese, that wine – how to get it right
There is arguably no pairing more perfect than cheese and wine. Whether tannic, light, sweet or dry, there’s a cheese that's a perfect match for every wine. Apply these tips to your next cheeseboard and you’re guaranteed to impress your guests.
When it comes to cheese and wine pairing, the basic rule of thumb is that it’s up to individual choice which is the hero – the cheese or the wine. You might have a juicy red crying out for a mate, or an aged cheese to which you want to give a starring role at your book club. If you’re overwhelmed by the choices, use this simple five-step guide to getting it right.
There is arguably no pairing more perfect than cheese and wine.
Step 1: Like loves like
What you don’t want is competing flavours, so it’s always a good idea to pair wines and cheeses with equal intensity. A bold Cabernet Sauvignon would overwhelm a delicate gruyère, but a sweet, creamy ricotta loves Chenin Blanc and Prosecco.
Step 2: Bold favours the aged
Aged cheeses lose water the older they become and gain rich flavour and fat content, which is ideal for a tannic, full-bodied red wine. The nutty flavours in an aged gouda or a crumbly sharp cheddar loves a Pinot Noir or a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Step 3: Funky cheeses go well with sweet wines
Don’t turn up your nose. Blue cheese, roquefort and stilton are easier to pair with a wine than you might think. Blue-veined, stinky cheese is beautifully balanced by the sweetness in a dessert wine, like port or Gewürztraminer, giving it a creamy taste.
Step 4: Sparkling wine celebrates soft, creamy cheeses
Brie is an ultra-creamy buttery cheese with hints of fresh wild mushrooms, and camembert is earthy and strong. Both respond to the carbonation and high acidity of sparkling wine, which acts like a palate cleanser.
Step 5: When in doubt…
You can’t go wrong with a firm, nutty cheese like gouda, gruyère or emmenthal. The higher fat content serves as a counter balance to the tannins in a bold red wine, but these cheeses are also delicate enough to complement a fresh Sauvignon Blanc.
Try these classic pairings
Characteristics: grassy, nutty and salty
Pair with: De Grendel Merlot
The medium tannins and full-bodied flavour stand up well to this grainy, flaky cheese, which is a cheeseboard favourite.
Characteristics: sweet, grassy creaminess
Pair with: Protea Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio pairs well with other mild Italian cheeses thanks to its gentle perfume and inherent freshness.
Characteristics: creamy and buttery with flavour that gets sharper and earthier with age
Pair with: TOKARA Sauvignon Blanc or Jacques Mouton Madeleine Chardonnay
While havarti can handle a Pinot Noir, if you prefer white wine, the buttery flavour of Chardonnay or the zesty freshness of a Sauvignon Blanc will satisfy your palette.
Characteristics: tangy and assertive flavours support the inherent saltiness
Pair with: Protea Merlot
There are many varieties of feta, but they are generally salty with nuances of herbs and spices, which is why an off-dry wine with fragrant character is the perfect partner.
Chèvre (goat’s milk)
Characteristics: spreadable, crumbly and pleasantly tangy, with a rich, dense texture
Pair with: Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc
Goat’s cheese can be herbaceous, but the flavour profile is fairly bland, so it cries out for a wine like this one with mineral character and citrus notes.