When it comes to pairing wine and cheese, one classic combination that never disappoints is wine with blue cheese. The rich, creamy, and tangy flavors of blue cheese can be perfectly complemented by the right wine. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or simply enjoying a quiet night at home, here are some tips and suggestions for matching wine and blue cheese.
Understanding Blue Cheese
Before we dive into the wine pairing suggestions, let’s first understand the characteristics of blue cheese. Blue cheese is known for its pungent, salty, and slightly spicy taste. It is typically made from cow’s milk, but can also be produced using sheep’s or goat’s milk. The blue veins running through the cheese are a result of the addition of specific mold cultures. Some popular types of blue cheese include Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton.
Pairing Tip: Sweet and Salty Contrast
One of the key principles in wine and cheese pairing is to create a balance of flavors. Blue cheese has a strong and salty taste, so it pairs well with wines that have a touch of sweetness. The sweetness helps to balance out the saltiness of the cheese and create a harmonious contrast. Dessert wines like Sauternes, Late Harvest Riesling, or Port are great options to consider.
Pairing Tip: Bold Reds
If you prefer red wine, opt for bold and full-bodied reds that can stand up to the robust flavors of blue cheese. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz, and Malbec are excellent choices. These wines have enough tannins and structure to complement the richness of the cheese without overpowering it. The fruity and savory notes in these wines can enhance the overall tasting experience.
Pairing Tip: Sparkling or White Wines
While red wine is the classic choice for cheese pairing, sparkling and white wines can also work wonders with blue cheese. Sparkling wines like Champagne or Prosecco have a refreshing acidity that cuts through the creaminess of the cheese and cleanses the palate. White wines with a good balance of acidity and fruitiness, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Viognier, can also make a delightful pairing.
Specific Wine and Blue Cheese Pairings
Now that we’ve covered some general pairing tips, let’s explore specific wine and blue cheese combinations that are sure to impress.
Roquefort and Sauternes
Roquefort, a famous blue cheese from France, pairs beautifully with Sauternes, a sweet wine made from grapes affected by noble rot. The intense sweetness and richness of the Sauternes complement the complex and salty flavors of the Roquefort, creating a harmonious combination.
Gorgonzola and Barbera
Gorgonzola, an Italian blue cheese known for its creamy texture, can be paired with Barbera, a medium-bodied red wine from the Piedmont region in Italy. The wine’s low tannins and high acidity help to balance the rich and slightly spicy flavors of the cheese, resulting in a well-rounded pairing.
Stilton and Port
Stilton, a traditional English blue cheese, harmonizes beautifully with Port, a fortified wine from Portugal. The fruity and nutty characteristics of the Port complement the bold and tangy flavors of the Stilton, creating a match made in heaven.
Pairing wine and blue cheese can be a delightful experience when done right. Remember to consider the sweet and salty contrast, opt for bold reds or sparkling/white wines, and explore specific pairings like Roquefort with Sauternes, Gorgonzola with Barbera, and Stilton with Port. Happy sipping and savoring!