food.and.wine.pairing

(pairing wine with cheese)

Cheese and wine are naturals together. And although there are many different styles of cheese, there is a wine to go with just about every one: red, white, sparkling or dessert.

Specific flavors in cheese will call for specific wines, but there are four general categories that can help you make a successful pairing:

• Mild goat, double and triple cream, bloomy rind: With mild and creamy cheeses you'll want a wine that has some good acid and/or bubbles to clean your mouth from all the fat. You also want to make sure the wine isn't too flavorful or it will overpower the cheese. A Non-Vintage Brut Champagne works well, as does Verdicchio, Pinot Grigio or Semillon (used in most white Bordeaux).

• Aged goat/sheep, semi-firm and mild cow: As the cheese steps up the intensity, so can the wine. Dry rosé and rosé Champagne will work here, as will some lighter bodied reds like Pinot Noir and Beaujolais (made from the Gamay grape).

• Aged cow and mild washed rind: These cheeses are bolder and have more structure to them. Good accompaniments are Amarone (particularly with aged Parmigiano Reggiano), Cabernet Sauvignon or Chateauneuf du Pape.

• Washed rind and blues: These intense, salty cheeses are usually best balanced by something with some body and sweetness such as Port, Sauternes and TBA Rieslings. Strangely enough the earthy qualities in these moldy cheeses can also go very well with wines of the Pinot family, such as Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris.

To go off on one final tangent, if you're doing cheese at the end of the meal and want something a little sweet but not as intense as Port, go with a Madeira. Madeira is similar to Port in that it is sweet because alcohol is added to it before it is done fermenting, leaving a fair amount of sugar. However, Madeira naturally has incredibly high acidity and it gets cooked during the making process, so it has a great nutty quality and can age forever. Madeira will go with just about any cheese except your really mild ones.