How to pair cheese and wine like a pro

How to pair cheese and wine like a pro

It's party time

Text: Janice Sim

The cheat sheet to hosting the best dinner party of your life

With every cheese platter comes copious amounts of wine – from time immemorial, that wine and cheese pairing has been one that everyone is drawn to. While they're delicious on their own, the real magic happens when they are consumed together. The real question is, how do you find that perfect pairing with such a wide sprawl of wine and cheese choices available out there? Enter The Cheese Artisans, a cheese concept store carrying over 80 varieties of European artisanal cheeses — this cosy shop in Bukit Timah is the perfect pitstop before any dinner party. What's cool is that these aficionados also broke the mould of classic cheeses by creating their own novelty flavours like blue cheese infused in Chinese tea. We sat their fromager Oliver Sutton down over an ambrosial platter accompanied by one too many glasses of bubbly, and scored these insider tips on marrying wine and cheese.

Understand your cheese

Like every other skill to hone, it's about getting the bases right. The basic cheese categories hold different characteristics. Fresh ones are likely to be mild and lactic, soft ones are creamy and herbaceous, the ones with washed rinds are pungent and rich, the hard cheeses are aged and slightly salty while the blue cheeses are aromatic and salty. Got that down pat yet?

cheese wine pairing selection party

Birds of the same feather flock together 

If you're a total rookie, the easiest way is to pair wine and cheese is to look at their similarities. Consider acidity, texture and aroma — light wines will go well with light cheeses, such as a fresh goat with a Sauvignon Blanc. The tannins in heavy wines like Syrah, will pair well with an aged Farmhouse cheddar with high fat content.

Opposites can attract

Like most meals, salty and sweet can make the most perfect of pairings. A Stilton blue cheese can work beautifully with a glass of sweet Port.

Pay attention to the texture

The texture of the cheese will guide your choice of wine. Lighter textured cheeses, such as those that are fresh and soft, will pair better with lighter wines while rich aged cheeses will complement the wines that are more robust. 

cheese wine pairing selection party

Watch the salt

The saltiness of the cheese will dictate the pairing's success. Fruity, rich wines such as Zinfandel or Syrah harness well with saltier cheeses. The tannins in the wines are softened by the salt, hence easing the overall salt jolt on the palate.

Love your cheese? Head on down to The Cheese Artisans, 18 Greenwood Avenue.