Cheese Pairing

A simple guide to cheese pairing

Cheese pairing is an art, to be sure, but it's one you can master in a few simple lessons. While there's almost nothing better in the world than a bite of cheese, pairing it with a thinly sliced prosciutto, a warm chunk of baguette, a bit of fig spread, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar glaze can take your cheese to new heights of flavor ecstasy.

Our website is chock-full of cheese pairing ideas for all your favorites. You'll find great ideas for your next wine and cheese party and for pairings to include in an excellent Wisconsin Cheese gift basket. To start your journey to becoming a cheese pairing expert, scroll down for a few simple but essential tips on how to help your cheese find its ideal partners.

Cheese pairing 101: balance, contrast, and harmony

The art of cheese pairing is all about finding flavors that are complementary to the cheese while providing contrast to the high levels of fat and protein. Here are some tips for pairing that would impress any Wisconsin artisan cheesemaker.

Pairing wines

  • One of the first rules of cheese and wine pairing is to pair wine and cheese of equal intensity. The delicate flavors of ricotta, for example, will be overwhelmed by a big, bold cabernet but are nicely complemented by a slightly citrusy sauvignon blanc.
  • You can choose a wine that complements or contrasts the cheese – a soft, creamy cheese goes well with a buttery white, but the bubbles and acidity of prosecco make a nice contrast to the density of a rich spreadable cheese.
  • Also, remember to balance salt with sweetness: cheeses with high salt content like an aged gouda or gorgonzola will be nicely balanced by a sweeter wine.

Pairing meat:

  • Pairing cheese with meat from the same region is a good place to start
  • You want a contrast in textures – a soft or spreadable cheese is best paired with chunks of cured sausage with a little more heft rather than a buttery thin slice of meat.
  • You also want a contrast in acidity. If the meat is tart and citrusy, like a cured sausage, a cheese with more nutty creaminess will pair well.

Pairing other foods:

  • Mild cheeses will pair well with the strong flavors of a tapenade or kalamata olives.
  • Fruits like grapes, figs, peaches, and berries do nicely with a creamier cheese, while hard and semi-firm cheeses pair nicely with apples, melons, and pears.
  • Sweet foods like honey, fig spread, fruit preserves or candied pecans balance out the salty, savory flavors of certain strong cheeses.

Videos: Discover Your Next Favorite Cheese

FAQs: What is cheese pairing?

What is cheese pairing?

Cheese pairing is the task – or some may say the art – of choosing wine, cured meats, and other foods that provide an interesting complement or contrast to the flavor and texture of a particular cheese.

What are the guidelines for cheese pairing?

Typically, a good cheese pairing involves choosing a wine or cut of meat that matches the intensity of the cheese, provides a contrast in texture and or complements the flavors in the cheese.

Pairing is easier with Wisconsin cheese

Wisconsin cheesemakers make cheese pairing easy. After all, when you're choosing wine, charcuterie and other ingredients, don't you want to pair them with the tastiest, most award-winning, highest quality cheese in the universe?

We are a state that not only dreams in cheese but dedicates 90% of the milk from our fertile dairyland to making the best cheese in the world. It's why we make more of it than any other state the nation, and why we produce nearly half of all the artisan cheese in the country. And it's why we've won 5,552 awards for our cheeses – no other state or country on earth has a bigger trophy case than Wisconsin.

So, next time you're looking for the ultimate cheese pairing for your wine or charcuterie, make sure the cheese you buy is from Wisconsin. Your guests (and your taste buds) will thank you.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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