Our Wine Editor's Tips for Pairing (and Eating) Cheese with Wine

In this episode of Wine School, Food & Wine executive wine editor Ray Isle helps create tasty pairings.

Wine and cheese is a classic combination, and in this episode of Wine School, Ray helps Hallie create tasty pairings for a party (of one). She has two cheeses available, a very funky blue and a Gruyère. Ray provides wine-pairing suggestions, and offers a few other wine-and-cheese tips throughout the video as well. Check them out below.

Red wine and blue cheese

First up is the blue cheese. Ray says the classic pairing is port (a sweet wine), but in this case, he recommends Hallie go with a big robust red—something from Southern Italy, such as a wine from Puglia or Sicily. She picks up a Primitivo, which has a fruitiness that complements the saltiness of the cheese.

White wine and Gruyère

For the Gruyère, Ray suggests a white. He says you wouldn’t want a big, oaky Chardonnay, but rather something “crisp and zippy,” like a dry Riesling, Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Blanc—Chablis would be good, too. Hallie chooses a Riesling, and the pairing works well.

How to taste the wine and cheese

First, sip the wine to know what it tastes like; then, have a bite of cheese. Finally, sip the wine again to see what the cheese’s taste does to the wine’s taste.

Take the cheese out before you serve…

Ray recommends taking the cheese out of the fridge an hour before serving. You don’t want it to be cold-cold, or hot—for soft cheeses like brie, you want them to in fact be soft and not firm up in the fridge. Leave the cheese in the wrapper and then unwrap when you’re ready to eat.

…and follow this advice for wine

Leave white wine out 15-20 minutes before drinking; as for red, put it in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving. Ray explains that when red wines are right at room temperature or a little warm, they actually smell a little bit more alcoholic. You ideally want your red wine a few degrees below room temperature, so they taste more refreshing.

More wine and cheese pairing tips

For even more pointers, check out “How to Pair Wine and Cheese Like an Expert,” which recommends pairings for cheeses including Comté, Berthaut Époisses, and more.

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