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24 Best Cheeses With Red Wine: Your Pairing Guide

Cheese and wine pairing can be both exciting and a bit daunting at first. But fear not. We’re here to guide you through some fantastic pairings that will elevate your next tasting.

Whether you’re new to cheese or looking to expand your palate, these cheese and red wine pairings are handpicked to create memorable flavors and moments.

Let’s explore the harmonious relationships between these culinary delights, making your journey into cheese and wine pairing a delicious adventure.

Pairing Cheese with Red Wine

You can go for balance or contrast when pairing cheese with red wine.

Balance

Balancing flavors in cheese and wine pairings is all about finding matches where each side brings out the best in the other. Imagine a smooth, creamy cheese paired with a wine that’s just as gentle on the palate, like a soft, fruity red.

This kind of pairing is like putting together two puzzle pieces that fit perfectly, enhancing the taste of both the cheese and the wine.

The idea is to pick a cheese and a wine that share some flavor notes or have similar levels of intensity, so neither one overwhelms the other. It’s about creating a harmonious balance where both the cheese and the wine can shine without competing, giving you a perfectly rounded taste experience.

Contrast

Exploring contrasting flavors in cheese and wine pairings opens up a delightful realm of sensory experiences where the magic lies in the interplay of opposites.

Imagine the sharp tanginess of a creamy blue cheese like Roquefort finding a perfect counterpart in the sweet lushness of a dessert wine like port, or the salty depth of an aged cheddar cutting through the fruit-forward vivacity of a Merlot.

While port is technically a fortified wine rather than a traditional red, its sweet profile offers a classic contrast to the potent flavors of blue cheese, showcasing how opposing flavors can create a harmonious balance.

This approach emphasizes the art of finding beauty in differences, allowing the unique characteristics of both cheese and wine to shine through in unexpected yet perfectly harmonious ways.

Now that you know a little about cheese and wine pairing, let’s explore 24 cheeses and the red wines they pair best with.

Feta

Feta cheese is salty and tangy, which works really well with the strong taste of red wine. The cheese’s saltiness and the wine’s bold flavors balance each other out, and feta’s creamy texture makes the wine feel smoother. This makes them great together for snacks.

Best wines to pair with feta:

  • Nebbiolo: Matches feta’s creamy texture with its dark red fruit notes and floral hints.
  • Beaujolais: A lighter red that complements feta’s mild funkiness.
  • Cabernet Franc: Offers fresh pepper, plum, and berry notes, balancing feta’s salty freshness.

Goat Cheese

Goat cheese is sharp and a bit tangy, making it a fun match for red wine that’s not too heavy. Its creamy texture and the wine’s fruity flavor work together really well, making each bite and sip better. Plus, the earthy taste of the cheese gets a nice boost from wines that have a bit of spice or fruitiness to them.

Best red wines for goat cheese:

  • Pinot Noir: Light and fruity, it goes great with goat cheese.
  • Grenache: Its spicy notes make the cheese taste even better.
  • Syrah: The peppery flavor is awesome with the bold taste of goat cheese.

Brie

Brie cheese is super creamy and has a mild flavor that’s great with certain red wines. The creaminess of Brie meets its match in wines that have a bit of fruitiness or a soft touch, making the cheese taste even smoother. This cheese loves wines that won’t overpower its subtle flavors, bringing out the best in both the cheese and the wine.

Best red wines for Brie:

  • Merlot: Its fruity vibe and smoothness are perfect with Brie.
  • Pinot Noir: Light and fruity, it complements Brie’s creaminess.
  • Cabernet Franc: Although not as common, its medium body and subtle herbaceous notes can also complement the creamy texture of Brie, offering an alternative to the typically recommended Chardonnay.

Gruyere

Gruyère cheese is known for its nutty and slightly sweet taste, which makes it a hit with red wines that have a bit of body and fruitiness. Its complex flavors are enhanced by wines that can stand up to its richness without overpowering it. The cheese’s smooth texture and depth of flavor find a perfect match in wines that offer a contrast or complement to its savory notes.

Best red wines for Gruyère:

  • Pinot Noir: Brings out Gruyère’s nutty flavors with its fruit-forward profile.
  • Merlot: Its roundness and fruity notes pair well with the cheese’s complexity.
  • Cabernet Franc: Offers a nice balance with its medium body and berry notes against the richness of Gruyère.

Gouda

Gouda cheese, especially when aged, has a rich, caramel sweetness and a bit of a nutty flavor that’s awesome with red wine. Its bold taste and smooth texture make it perfect for wines that have a bit of oakiness or a deeper fruit flavor. The cheese’s slight saltiness and the wine’s richness mean every bite and sip are full of flavor and really satisfying.

Best red wines for Gouda:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Its full body and deep fruit flavors love Gouda’s richness.
  • Merlot: Smooth, with a hint of sweetness that pairs nicely with Gouda.
  • Zinfandel: The bold and fruity taste matches well with the cheese’s caramel notes.

Aged Cheddar

Aged Cheddar, with its sharp and deeply savory flavor, is a classic cheese that pairs brilliantly with a variety of red wines. Its rich, tangy taste and crumbly texture go well with wines that have a good balance of fruitiness and acidity, enhancing the cheese’s strong flavors. The aging process of Cheddar, which can introduce a slight nuttiness, also benefits from wines that can complement its complex profile.

Best red wines for Aged Cheddar:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Its bold flavors and structure stand up to the intensity of aged Cheddar.
  • Zinfandel: The wine’s fruity, spicy notes harmonize with the cheese’s richness.
  • Syrah: Offers peppery and dark fruit flavors that match well with the savory depth of the cheese.

Pecorino

Pecorino, a hard and salty cheese made from sheep’s milk, shines when paired with bold red wines. Its robust flavor profile, featuring a sharp and somewhat spicy taste, complements wines that offer depth and a bit of tannin structure. This cheese’s rich texture and savory notes make it a perfect match for wines that can stand up to its intensity, enhancing both the cheese and wine’s best qualities.

Best red wines for Pecorino:

  • Sangiovese: Its acidity and tannins pair well with Pecorino’s saltiness.
  • Barolo: The wine’s complexity and boldness match the cheese’s strong flavors.
  • Chianti: Offers a fruity balance to the sharpness of Pecorino, with enough body to complement its texture.

Stilton

Stilton, a rich and tangy blue cheese, offers a bold flavor that pairs exceptionally well with red wine. Its intense creamy and salty characteristics are balanced by the sweetness and complexity of certain wines. This cheese’s unique moldy notes are complemented by wines that bring a fruity or spicy contrast, creating a harmonious blend of flavors that enhances the dining experience.

Best red wines for Stilton:

  • Port: Though traditionally a sweet wine, its richness complements Stilton beautifully.
  • Merlot: Its fruity notes can provide a nice balance to the sharpness of the cheese.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Offers a robust flavor that stands up to Stilton’s boldness.

Aged Gouda

Aged Gouda, with its deep caramel sweetness and slight crunch from protein crystals, is a delight with red wine. Its rich, nutty flavors and firm texture make it an ideal match for wines that can match its intensity and complexity. The aging process, which can intensify both the sweetness and the savory aspects of Gouda, pairs beautifully with wines that have a good balance of fruit, acidity, and tannins.

Best red wines for Aged Gouda:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Its full body and robust flavors complement the cheese’s richness.
  • Syrah: The spicy and fruity notes of Syrah enhance the complex flavors of aged Gouda.
  • Merlot: Offers a softer, fruit-forward option that still stands up to the cheese’s bold taste.

Clothbound Cheddar

Clothbound Cheddar, wrapped and aged in cloth, develops a unique profile with a balance between earthy, nutty, and sometimes slightly tangy flavors. This cheese’s dense texture and complex taste pair well with wines that can complement its depth without overwhelming it. The savory, slightly crumbly nature of Clothbound Cheddar is enhanced by wines with a good tannin structure and a hint of fruitiness or earthiness.

Best red wines for Clothbound Cheddar:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Its boldness and depth match the intensity of the cheese.
  • Zinfandel: The wine’s fruity and spicy character complements the cheese’s earthy notes.
  • Syrah: Offers a smoky, peppery contrast to the cheese’s rich flavors.

Emmentaler

Emmentaler, known for its mild, nutty, and slightly sweet flavor, is a Swiss cheese with large holes that pairs nicely with red wine. Its subtle yet distinct taste complements wines that are not too overpowering, allowing the cheese’s flavors to shine through. The creamy, slightly fruity nature of Emmentaler is enhanced by red wines that offer a balance of fruitiness, acidity, and a hint of oak, making for a delightful pairing.

Best red wines for Emmentaler:

  • Pinot Noir: Its light body and fruity notes harmonize with Emmentaler’s mild flavor.
  • Merlot: Offers a smooth, round complement to the cheese’s creamy texture.
  • Cabernet Franc: Provides a medium-bodied option with notes of berries and herbs that pair well with the nuttiness of Emmentaler.

Idiazabal

Idiazabal, a smoked sheep’s milk cheese from Spain, has a distinctive, rich flavor that pairs well with red wines, capable of complementing its smoky and slightly nutty character. The depth and intensity of Idiazabal’s taste require wines that can match its boldness without overshadowing the unique smoky notes. This cheese benefits from the company of wines that offer a robust flavor profile, including a balance of tannins and acidity, to enhance the overall tasting experience.

Best red wines for Idiazabal:

  • Tempranillo: Its full body and earthy tones complement the smokiness of Idiazabal.
  • Grenache: Offers fruity and spicy nuances that enhance the cheese’s flavors.
  • Rioja: A classic pairing, the complexity and oakiness of Rioja work well with the rich, smoky taste of the cheese.

Havarti

Havarti, a Danish cheese known for its creamy texture and buttery aroma, pairs beautifully with red wines that are not too bold, allowing the cheese’s delicate flavors to come through. The slight tanginess and smooth melt-in-your-mouth quality of Havarti are complemented by wines with balanced acidity and fruity notes. This cheese’s versatility makes it a great match for lighter red wines that enhance its creamy richness without overpowering its subtle taste.

Best red wines for Havarti:

  • Pinot Noir: Its light body and subtle fruitiness complement Havarti’s creaminess.
  • Merlot: A soft, fruity profile that pairs nicely with the buttery notes of the cheese.
  • Beaujolais: The wine’s light body and fresh fruit flavors highlight Havarti’s mild tanginess.

Raclette

Raclette, a semi-hard cheese known for its meltability and slightly nutty, sweet taste, is traditionally paired with wine in its Swiss and French alpine regions. This cheese, when melted, reveals a creamy texture and earthy flavors that demand wines with enough acidity to cut through the richness. The aromatic profile of Raclette, which can include hints of fruitiness when warmed, pairs exceptionally well with red wines that have a moderate body and can complement its hearty, comforting nature.

Best red wines for Raclette:

  • Pinot Noir: Its balanced acidity and fruit notes enhance Raclette’s creamy texture.
  • Gamay: A light-bodied wine with high acidity that cuts through the richness of the cheese.
  • Merlot: Offers a round, fruity contrast to Raclette’s earthy flavors, without overwhelming it.

Pecorino Toscano

Pecorino Toscano, a softer and less salty version of the more well-known Pecorino Romano, is characterized by its nutty and grassy flavors. This cheese’s delicate nature makes it a perfect match for red wines that are not too overpowering, allowing its subtle flavors to shine. The slight sweetness and creamy texture of Pecorino Toscano are enhanced by wines with mild tannins and a hint of fruitiness, creating a balanced and enjoyable pairing experience.

Best red wines for Pecorino Toscano:

  • Chianti: Its medium body and acidity complement the cheese’s grassy notes.
  • Sangiovese: Offers a harmonious balance with its fruity and slightly tannic profile.
  • Merlot: A softer wine that pairs nicely with the cheese’s nutty flavors.

Fiore Sardo

Fiore Sardo, an aged sheep’s milk cheese from Sardinia, is known for its smoky flavor and grainy texture. This cheese’s rich, intense flavor profile pairs well with red wines that can stand up to its boldness. The smokiness of Fiore Sardo is complemented by wines with a robust body and hints of spice or smoke, creating a dynamic and satisfying pairing experience.

Best red wines for Fiore Sardo:

  • Cannonau di Sardegna: Its full body and ripe fruit flavors match the intensity of the cheese.
  • Barolo: Offers a complex and tannic structure that complements the cheese’s rich flavors.
  • Sangiovese: Provides a nice balance with its acidity and cherry notes against the smoky character of Fiore Sardo.

Edam

Edam cheese, with its mild, slightly salty, and nutty flavor, is a Dutch classic that pairs well with a range of red wines. Its semi-hard texture and subtle taste make it a versatile cheese for wine pairing, complementing wines that offer a balance of fruitiness and acidity. The smooth, creamy quality of Edam is highlighted by red wines that are not too tannic, allowing the cheese’s delicate flavors to emerge.

Best red wines for Edam:

  • Merlot: Its soft, fruity profile complements Edam’s mild nuttiness.
  • Pinot Noir: Offers a light, balanced acidity that enhances the cheese’s flavors.
  • Beaujolais: The wine’s fresh, light body pairs well with the cheese’s subtle saltiness.

Muenster

Muenster cheese, with its smooth, slightly tangy, and creamy texture, pairs nicely with medium-bodied red wines. Its mild flavor and creamy texture are enhanced by wines with fruity notes, offering a balance that complements the cheese’s subtle taste without overwhelming it.

  • Pinot Noir: Its fruity notes and light body complement Muenster’s creaminess.
  • Grenache: The spicy undertones of Grenache accentuate the mild tanginess of Muenster.
  • Merlot: A softer red that pairs well with the cheese’s smooth texture.

Parmesan

Aged Parmesan, known for its hard texture and nutty, salty flavor, pairs exceptionally well with full-bodied red wines. The robust flavors of Parmesan demand wines with equally strong characteristics, creating a harmonious balance of rich, savory notes.

  • Chianti: Its acidity and structure cut through Parmesan’s richness.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Offers a bold flavor that stands up to the intense taste of Parmesan.
  • Barolo: The wine’s complexity and tannins complement the aged cheese’s depth.

Manchego

Manchego, a firm and buttery sheep’s milk cheese from Spain, pairs wonderfully with a variety of red wines. Its rich flavor and crumbly texture go hand in hand with wines that offer a balance of fruit, acidity, and tannins.

  • Tempranillo: A perfect match from the same region, complementing Manchego’s nuttiness.
  • Rioja: The nuanced flavors of Rioja enhance the cheese’s creamy texture.
  • Garnacha: Its fruity and spicy profile pairs well with Manchego’s slight sweetness.

Roquefort

Roquefort, a bold and tangy blue cheese, pairs well with sweet and full-bodied red wines. The cheese’s strong, piquant flavors are balanced by the sweetness of certain red wines, creating a perfect contrast.

  • Port: Traditionally paired with blue cheese, its sweetness complements Roquefort’s saltiness.
  • Merlot: The fruity sweetness can balance the bold flavors of Roquefort.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: The bold flavors of the wine match the intensity of the cheese.

Gorgonzola

Gorgonzola, with its creamy and sometimes spicy flavor, pairs well with red wines that offer a sweet or fruity counterbalance. The mold in the cheese complements the tannins in red wine, creating a rich and harmonious pairing.

  • Barbera: Its acidity and fruitiness cut through the richness of Gorgonzola.
  • Zinfandel: The wine’s robust flavors match well with the cheese’s boldness.
  • Merlot: A softer option that pairs nicely with Gorgonzola’s creamy texture.

Camembert

Camembert, similar to Brie but with a deeper flavor, pairs well with light to medium-bodied red wines. The cheese’s creamy texture and earthy notes are complemented by wines with moderate acidity and fruit notes.

  • Pinot Noir: Enhances Camembert’s creamy texture and earthy flavors.
  • Beaujolais: Its light body and fruity flavors complement the cheese’s softness.
  • Cabernet Franc: The medium body and berry notes balance the cheese’s richness.

Asiago

Asiago, which can range from smooth and mild to aged and robust, pairs well with a variety of red wines. The cheese’s versatility means it can complement both light, fruity wines and richer, more tannic options.

  • Chianti: Its acidity and tannins work well with aged Asiago.
  • Merlot: For younger Asiago, the soft, fruity Merlot complements its creaminess.
  • Amarone: The rich, bold flavors of Amarone pair nicely with the nuttiness of aged Asiago.