Wine Lists

How to pair cheese and wine

By Eliza Campbell

11 Dec, 2019

We ask Laura Lown, head cheesemonger at Milk the Cow in Melbourne, how to nail the perfect flavour combinations.

    There are few things more enticing then a decadent cheese board positioned next to a glass of wine – but sometimes, choosing the right wine with the right cheese can feel like a game of chance. 

    “For every wine, there is a perfect cheese to match its flavour, body, style, expression and terroir,” says Laura Lown, head cheesemonger at Melbourne’s Milk the Cow. “We match in three different ways when trying to pair cheeses and wines: cut through the flavours, complement the flavours and contrast the flavours.” 

    If you’re starting with the wine, Laura has some advice on picking a winning combination based on this cut, complement and contrast approach ahead. 

  • Cabernet cheese pairing

  • When choosing which cheese and cabernet pairing, look to full flavoured options. “The best cheeses to pair with bigger, heartier red wines are bigger, bolder cheeses. Try aged goudas, such as Reypanear VSOP, as the caramel notes and dense texture stand up to a cabernet sauvignon nicely.” 

    Halliday recommends: Mount Avoca Estate Pyrenees Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

  • Pinot noir cheese pairing

  • The best wine and cheese pairing here will be one that’s light, but with a little earthiness. “Choose more delicate flavoured styles like sheep’s milk – Ossau Iraty is a famous French one to try. Comte, with its complexity of flavour, is also a good option. You can even try pinot noir with brie.”

    Halliday recommends: Sidewood Estate 777 Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2017

  • Chardonnay cheese pairing

  • For cheese pairing with chardonnay, go for a like for like with something rich and buttery. “Try brie or triple cream white moulds. An oakier chardonnay can also work well with a creamy blue like the local Berry’s Creek Riverine, which is made from buffalo milk. It’s fatty and has a subtle salt flavour to match the higher acidity levels in the wine.”

    Halliday recommends: Bondar Wines Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2018

  • Sauvignon blanc cheese pairing

  • Sauvignon blanc is a classic pairing for goat’s cheese, Laura says. “The acidity of fresh goat’s cheeses like Meredith Farm Chevre balances the wine nicely.” 

    Halliday recommends: Singlefile Wines Single Vineyard Pemberton Fume Blanc 2018

  • Rosé cheese pairing

  • Rosé comes in many styles, and your cheese pairing could depend on which you choose. But Laura says your safest bet is: “Clean, salty cheeses, such as feta. The summery nature of rosé also makes it suitable to enjoy with Mediterranean cheeses like Spanish Queso Mahon or Cypriot Haloumi.”

    Halliday recommends: Yering Station Village Yarra Valley Rosé 2018

  • Sparkling and Champagne cheese pairing

  • Not much beats a glass of fizz clinked over a cheese board, and Laura suggests choosing: “Triple cream and high-fat cheeses, as the bubbles cut through the fat perfectly.” She also says that: “Vintage Champagne goes beautifully with aged cheeses, such as the G.Cravero Parmigiano Reggiano, which is dry and nutty but sweet.”

    Halliday recommends: Clover Hill Sparkling Prestige Late Disgorged Vintage Brut 2006

    For more entertaining ideas, look to these highly rated and affordable wines for summer occasions.