Now that December’s here, you can expect a month full of holiday parties. Whether you’re hosting a gathering yourself or looking for something to nosh on when at a friend’s party, you can’t go wrong with pairing wine and cheese.
Not only is the dynamic duo easy to prepare (all that requires is a trip to the grocery store and some plating skills), but it’s also a great appetizer for bite-size snacking. And with a variety of cheeses to choose from, there’s sure to be a bottle of wine that complements those flavors and textures perfectly.
We rounded up a few signature wine and cheese pairings to serve or try at your next holiday party this season, thanks to Cameron Hughes, founder and vintner of Cameron Hughes Wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon + Aged Cheddar A nice, full cabernet will require an equally bold cheese to match its taste and finish on the tongue. Aged or sharp cheddar will work well with this red wine—try pairing it with steak skewers for a tasty appetizer.
“I recommend a bold, complex aged cheddar to complement this wine’s nuanced tannins of black cherry fruit and chocolaty oak,” Hughes says.
Pinot Noir + Gruyere Think of a lovely dinner of French onion soup and a sip of a light, red wine. A pinot noir tastes fairly sweeter or fruitier in general, so it’ll work well with a nutty cheese like Gruyere.
Hughes explains, “The subtle sweetness of Gruyere cheese is an ideal match for pinot’s flavors. Earthy black cherry, plum, baking spices, and pepper mingle nicely with this rich, nutty cheese that was born in Switzerland,” he says.
Chardonnay + Brie If you’re looking for a white wine that’s a bit more acidic and smooth, you’ll want the cheese to be smooth and creamy as well. In this case, Brie, or any soft cheese that’s spreadable, might work well. An appetizer example could be a crostini or toast, using the cheese of choice and a few toppers, such as tomatoes, olives, pesto, or smoked salmon.
Hughes suggests that a rich chardonnay will match up with a bloomy Brie. “Creamier cheeses like Brie are best met with a less tannic, more lush and acidic varietal like Chardonnay,” he says.
Rosé + Provolone Depending on whether your rosé is sweet or dry, the cheese will differ. For a sweeter flavor, you might want to go with a lighter cheese, such as a burrata or ricotta, but for a drier varietal, you’ll want a cheese that has a bit more spunk. The great thing about a drier rosé is that it easily fits into the colder months.
Zinfandel + Aged Gouda This bold beauty of a red is perfect for the chilly, holiday season and works well with meatier foods, such as steak, mushrooms, and rich, dynamic cheeses. Aged Gouda will complement those flavors. Sturdy wheat crackers are ideal, or you can whip up a stuffed mushroom appetizer.
A rich, ripe zinfandel meets its match in a bold cheese like aged Gouda. “The wonderful distinctive flavor of this cheese can be both sharp and sweet – think of butterscotch – and will stand up to a zinfandel’s moderate tannins and plummy blackberry pepper notes framed in vanilla, whiskey and tobacco,” he says.
How do you like to prepare wine and cheese appetizers? Please share your tips below!