We asked Steve Jones, owner and official cheesemonger at Cheese Bar in Portland, Oregon to give us his best quick and dirty tips for how to create the perfect wine and cheese pairings.
If you know which wines you’ll be pairing, here are some tips:
Regionally – Wine and cheese from the same region will always be the best match. For example, start with French cheese for French wine, American cheese for American wine, and so on.
Contrasting – Take flavors in which one is very heavy and pair it with one that is light, or flavors that are sweet with one that is salty. Try harder cheese with lighter wines and softer cheese with bolder wines. Then consider which item is going to be the star of the pairing. If you have a bold in-your-face wine, then look for an understated cheese, or vice versa. The idea is to compliment the more prominent pairing.
Comparitive – Take two flavors that are paralell.
If you are attending a party and you don’t know which wines you’ll be pairing cheese with, you can bring a “cheater” cheese that works well with a variety of different wines. A few amazing cheater cheese options include:
Columbier – A creamy french farmhouse cheese made from goats milk. Yup, you’re going to get a little bit of barn-house with this unique cheese. If you suspect your cheese needs to stand up to robust powerful wines, hearty meals and rich ingredients, this is your cheater cheese.
Abbaye del Belloc – A semi-firm french cheese made from sheep milk. This cheese is made by Benedictine Monks at the abbey of Notre-Dame de Belloc (how cool is that?). It’s a fine, dense, fatty cheese with caramelized complex flavors. Abbaye del Belloc is a perfect pairing cheese for lighter wines. It’ll work with lighter/medium bodied reds but is most at home within the full spectrum of whites. This is an ideal choice if you suspect beer drinkers and champagne lovers will be present.
Compte Extra – A semi-firm french cheese made from cows milk. This is the most common of the cheater cheeses and possibly the safest all around bet. It’s relatively hard, yet flexible, appealing to a wide range of cheese lovers with a strong and slightly sweet flavor. It will comfortably pair with just about any wine. However, it will show best with lighter reds and creamy whites.
Shot on site at the Cheese Bar in Portland, OR.