Wine and cheese are a match made in culinary heaven. When enjoyed together, their unique qualities enhance each other, creating new flavour profiles and delighting the senses. However, with the infinite number of combinations, finding the perfect wine and cheese pairings may seem overwhelming. Wines vary in acidity, sweetness, and structure; cheeses boast different flavours, fat content, and textures. Where is the balance?
At Eataly, we wanted to learn how to throw our own wine-and-cheese tasting. Luckily for us, we know some of the best cheesemongers and sommeliers in the business. These experts gave us five simple guidelines. Let the pairing begin!
1. START WITH INTENSITY.
Compare the respective power of the products. Light goes with light; bold with bold. Fresh, simple cheeses tend to be enhanced by elegant, delicate wines. By the same token, a robust red can take on the bigger flavours of a stronger cheese.
Sample pairings: Elegant white Falanghina with delicate Mozzarella di Bufala, light red Pinot Nero with mild Taleggio, bold red Barolo with flavourful Grana Padano DOP
2. CONSIDER THE FLAVOUR.
Try to match the flavours (acidity, saltiness, sweetness, bitterness, etc.), taking into account how the cheese’s texture will contribute. Complement or contrast by smoothing out a wine’s bracing acidity with a creamier cheese or accentuating a lighter wine’s acidity with a harder cheese. When in doubt, high acidity and some sweetness are a cheese’s best friends when it comes to wine.
Sample pairings: Intense Sangiovese with soft Ricotta, complex white Pinot Bianco with semi-firm Fontina, sparkling Moscato d’Asti with firm Asiago
3. THINK REGIONALLY.
As the old adage goes, “What grows together goes together.” Each of Italy’s 20 regions boasts its own selection of wine and cheeses, thanks to traditional production methods and biodiversity. The local products naturally connect, creating simple and elegant pairings.
Sample pairings: Piemonte’s Langhe Rosso with Robiola, Toscana’s Nobile di Montepulciano with Pecorino Toscano, Puglia’s Rosato di Negroamaro with Burrata
4. THROW THE RULES OUT THE WINDOW.
Like we said: the wine and cheese worlds are both endless, creating an infinite number of possible pairings. While the above serves as a good guideline, don’t forget to be creative.
5. START TASTING!
To begin your own wine-and-cheese education, we recommend setting a table with one bottle of wine, four varied cheeses (at room temperature), and a loaf of rustic bread. Sip the wine with a clean palate, take a bite of the first cheese, and note the flavour combinations. Take another sip of wine after swallowing the cheese, and write down your observations. Cleanse your palate with a piece of bread, and repeat. This self-guided class is especially fun with a fellow “student” (or two, or three).
Let the delicious education continue by signing up for our classes and event at our cooking school! Led by the same experts who contributed to this guide, you will take your wine and cheese pairings to the next level as you taste and sip a variety of the best of Italy. Explore our store’s calendar here.