Some examples of soft cheeses are Brie, feta, goat, mascarpone, Muenster and Neufchatel. The crisp, clean Seyval and the dry, full-bodied Chardonel are great wines to pair with softer cheeses. Missouri sparkling wine is also a good match because creamy textured cheeses tend to coat the mouth. The bubbles act as an excellent palate cleanser.
Cheese is a popular and delicious pairing for wine. But with the wide variety of cheeses and Missouri wines available, how do you know what goes best with what? The good news is that there are no laws in the food and wine pairing department. Part of the fun is trying your own pairings to see what complements your palate the best. While experimentation is great, there are a few tasty recommendations and guidelines that can help steer you in the right direction. See some of them here.
As a general rule, red wines typically pair well with mild to sharp cheeses, and strongly flavored cheeses like bleu or gorgonzola, go well with port and late harvest (sweet) wines.
It might help to think of cheese in four different categories by texture: soft, semi-soft, semi-hard and hard.
Remember to keep in mind that this is only a guide. As you will see, there are Missouri wines that pair nicely with many different types of cheese. The possibilities are endless! The best way to find out what you like is to try new combinations. Host your own wine and cheese tasting. Learn how here.
Semi-soft cheeses have a texture that is just slightly harder than the soft cheeses. The most common examples are Baby Swiss, Colby, Fontina, Havarti and Morbier. Try a semi-sweet to sweet wine like Catawba with the Baby Swiss. Stick with the drier Chardonel for the Havarti. These are great snacking cheeses. Havarti is often made with chilies or other intense spices. If you’re having a spicy cheese, try a slightly more complex wine like Chambourcin.
Semi-hard cheeses are less delicate than the others in the cheese family. As they age, they become more pungent. Some common semi-hard cheeses include Cheddar, Chesire, Colby-Jack, Gouda, Monterey Jack, Provolone, Roquefort and Stilton. One of the most popular pairings in the wine world is the rich Stilton with a sweet Port. The fruity white wine, Vignoles, is also a good match with these types of cheeses. Other great options are medium-bodied wines like the earthy Chambourcin and the dry, white Seyval.
And finally we arrive at the hard cheeses, which are some of the most intense in the bunch. At times affectionately deemed “stinky cheeses,” Asiago, Gruyere, Parmesan, Reggiano, Romano and Swiss fall into the hard cheese category. These strong cheeses go great with the more tannic red wines like Norton and Chambourcin. They will also pair nicely with a dry Vignoles.