The United States is a country that loves its alcohol, from craft beer and liquor to wine and spirits. Studies show that the U.S. is the largest wine consuming nation in the world, with 7,700 wineries across the country. The five most popular varietals of wine are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, and Pinot Noir, but they all have one thing in common — they’re better when paired with the right type of cheese. Whether you’re treating yourself to a fancy evening or throwing a full out wine and cheese party, here are the best combinations when it comes to some of the most popular types of wine.
- Chardonnay: When comes to a white grape wine like Chardonnay, a semi-hard, medium aged cheese is best. These have a firmer texture and are more flavorful. Additionally, softer cheeses like Brie or a melted Gruyere can be great pairing options.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: A powerful, tannic red wine, Cabernet Sauvignon is best paired with a sharp cheese such as Cheddar. The key here is age — since Cabernet Sauvignon can be aged for decades, an aged cheese complements it well. Aged Gouda works well, too — if it’s aged and has a sharp enough kick, chances are it’ll be a hit.
- Pinot Grigio: The refreshing taste of a good quality Pinot Grigio is incomparable, and it needs a soft and delicately flavored cheese, such as Ricotta, to complement it best. Although it ranges in flavors from sharp and crisp to more floral or citrus, any soft cheese that isn’t too overpowering is the best bet. Mozzarella, Feta, and Brie are also viable options.
- Merlot: As a lighter, fruitier wine, Merlot pairs best with a medium hard American cheese such as Monterey Jack. The delicate balance of fruit, acidity, and tannin call for stronger cheeses such as Havarti, Manchego, or Gouda. Any medium hard, sharp cheese will work best.
- Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir can exhibit a wide range of aromas, flavors, and textures, but it generally has an earthy and red berry flavor. This light-bodied and flexible wine can be paired with almost anything for a richer flavor. Some recommend a soft and lighter cheese such as brie, but others recommend a fuller, stronger and more aromatic cheese such as Taleggio or Morbier.
When it comes to alcohol, there are countless options, but wine is truly one of the classics. Finding the perfect wine and cheese pairings is a great way to enjoy the finer things in life. For more information about wine and cheese pairings or alcohol in general, visit your local liquor or wine store.