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In Good Taste

Guide to Wine & Cheese Pairing

Guide to Wine & Cheese Pairing

Wine and Cheese

Wine and cheese go together like, well, wine and cheese. It seems as though there are no end to varieties of cheese and varietals of wine. Can pairing wine and cheese be that complicated? Well at times the simple answer to that is yes, but it doesn’t have to be! Just as there are different factors to wine such as acidity, tannins, and body, cheese has its own factors. The good news is that all of these differences lead to easy tricks for pairing and lots of surprising combinations to make your tastebuds dance and impress your guests. These tips and tricks will help turn your home into the go-to spot for perfect pairings.

How to Know What to Pair

So how do you know what to pair? We need  to keep in mind the qualities of our wines and cheeses and which ones match to which.

Hometown Heroes

Similar to pairing wine with food, an easy place to start is pairing wine with cheese from the same region. This works mainly with Old World wines, but can still be applied to a fair amount of New World wines by using similar logic as to where the grape first originated. Much of this is due to the climate. This works in most cases and is an easy best beginning.

Age, Depth, and Complexity

Wine and cheese both have a wide range of types, ages, depths, and complexities. The trick is pairing these, and though in many cases, like for like can work, there are plenty of others where opposites can attract. Matching like flavors and complexities in most cases is an easy and no fret way to pair. 

Pairing Wines with Young and Soft Cheeses Infographic
Pairing Wines with Aged Cheeses Infographic
Pairing Wines with Salty Cheese Infographic

Young and soft cheeses with silky textures and creamy body, usually still full of moisture, pair especially well with young and lively wines, full of fruit, good acidity, and spirited aromas. Think Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, and Red Blends for reds, and Unoaked Chardonnay, Viognier, and Champagne for whites.

Old cheeses who’ve aged, losing their moisture in what’s called “affinage”, are full of rich fatty and savory flavor. Old, bold, and rich wines are the ones who can stand up to their richness and in many cases, sharpness. This requires a wine with good tannins, that tacky feeling on your tongue some wines like Cabernets and Syrah give off. These tannins clear fat and protein off the palate, making them perfect for sharp-aged cheeses with plenty of fat and protein to go around. Aged Spanish Tempranillos can have a smokiness to them as well, making them great partners for these cheeses as well.

Salty cheeses, like goat or the various blue cheeses, pair especially well with sweet wines as the saltiness brings out the sweetness even more. Moscato and Sauternes have a reputation for being excellent pairings with these savory heavy hitters.

Popular Pairings

Cabernet Sauvignon and Aged Cheddar

Cabernet Sauvignon and Aged Cheddar

By far this is one of the easiest and most common wine and cheese pairings and for good reason. Something strong and sharp like cheddar needs a bold and full-bodied wine to stand up to its intense personality. Similar to pairing with a fatty cut of meat like a ribeye, the Cabernet Sauvignon cuts through the fat with its lip-puckering tannins, allowing for a perfect harmony of fat and flavor. What more could you want?

Chardonnay and Fontina D'Aosta

Chardonnay and Fontina D’Aosta

This is one example for Chardonnay, as the world’s second most popular grape (behind Cabernet Sauvignon) is both complicated and controversial in its production. This particular pairing is for a moderately oaked Chard that brings out the nutty flavors of the Fontina. Of course, heavier, lighter, or unoaked can change the pairing you’d want. An easy way to match it up: the heavier the presence of oak, the harder the cheese. A double oaked Chardonnay could hang with aged cheddar, while an unoaked Chablis could fit with a bloomy cheese like brie. Honestly, you could make an entire tasting party of just cheeses and Chardonnays and not go wrong! Blue Cheese is another awesome pairing with Chardonnay. 

Pinot Noir and Camembert

Pinot Noir and Camembert

Yes, Pinot Noir has a reputation as being one of the most versatile reds to pair with food. This stays true with cheeses but also depends on the origin. A light to medium body Pinot from Burgundy or Oregon State pairs well with a bloomy cheese like Camembert, which brings a creamy body and similar earth tones that can match that of a fine Pinot Noir. Alternatively, a full-bodied Californian Pinot Noir would work with a semi-hard cheese like Munster or Fontina.

Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese

Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese

A classic pairing if ever there was one, Sauvignon Blanc’s vibrant acidity and notes of tangy lemon and cool minerality can cut through the earthy funk of goat cheese while also bringing out herbiness and finding body in the creaminess as the cheese melts in your mouth. 

Merlot and Gruyere

Merlot and Gruyère

Merlot is a completely underrated grape that is amazing on its own and is often used in some of the best-blended wines in the world. . You can find them in Bordeaux Blends, especially Right Bank Bordeaux where they make up the majority, and Washington State makes a more full-bodied version. Paired with the buttery and semi-hard Gruyère, Merlot brings out more of the nutty notes while bringing its earthiness and blackberry notes, making for a combination to die for.

Riesling and Teleggio Cheese

Riesling and Teleggio

Not for the faint of heart, yet worth the plunge, Taleggio can be a little stinky but paired next to the off-dry nature of a German, French, or Washington State Riesling, the grassy notes of the cheese fold nicely into sweetness and freshness of Riesling. 

Rose Wine and Feta

Rosé and Feta

There are lots of ways to get this one going, though just taking them both together is just fine. Rosé brings acidity and notes of raspberries and often minerality which cuts through the fattiness of the feta and working side by side with the saltiness to keep your mouth watering. Not to mention the two work perfectly well on a salad, you can have this pairing over and over again!

Pinot Grigio and Parmesan

Pinot Grigio and Parmesan

This pairing is almost too easy. Pinot Grigio’s sharp acidity stands up to the dense and nutty parmesan, giving it a boost with notes of citrus. Try them by themselves or with classic Italian dishes like Shrimp Scampi. Make sure to pour the Pinot Grigio into both your glass and the scampi sauce!

Champagne and Brie

Champagne and Brie

Because why not? Champagne can handle the fat of the brie while taking on the creaminess to add to its toasty flavor and bubbles. Did you know that one of the main grape varietals in Champagne is Chardonnay? True French Champagne isn’t alone in this delicious pairing, as Crémant, Prosecco, and Cava can step right in and get the job done, too.

Syrah and Havarti Cheese

Syrah and Havarti

Though it can be found by itself in Crozes-Hermitage or the New World, it’s also prevalent in many Cotes du Rhone Blends. Syrah has a body and pepper that can go blow for blow with the sharp and buttery flavor of Havarti. Experiment with Rhone blends and you can have a new experience every time.

Zinfandel and Gouda

Zinfandel and Gouda

Gouda’s rich and firm tang is balanced and perfumed thanks to the jammy nature and full body of Zinfandel. As Zins go forward and age, they add pepper, richer blackberry, vanilla, and blackcurrant notes that stack onto gouda, especially smoked gouda, to give it a robust experience. 

Sauternes and Roquefort

Sauternes & Roquefort Cheese

Sauternes is made from Semillion grapes that get a Botrytis (aka Noble Rot), a fungus that shrinks the grapes down, but renders them sweet. The hardest to harvest and the most expensive dessert wines in the world. What better match to our funky friend and his mold-induced decadence? Soulmates. Er. Mold-mates.

Roquefort Cheese is the sheep equivalent of Blue Cheese. It’s even more savory and salty, and THE go-to pairing is Sauternes. The honeyed sweetness compliments perfectly, notes of lemon curd, meringue, apricot preserve, top this salty aged wonder in the best way. Decadence? Of course.

Gift Baskets

Cheese for gift baskets can feel daunting, but now that we know the tricks, it’s easy to use some of the more popular cheeses and pairings. A basket with Aged Cheddar, Brie, Gruyere, Gouda, Goat Cheese, and Havarti is an easy start to highlight the classics. And something so simple can pair perfectly with the wines in our California Wine Mixer gift basket.

Or go off the beaten path with fun cheeses, like Fontina D’Aosta, Camembert, Burrata, Manchego, Epoisses, Robiola, Taleggio, Stracchino.  Pair this with the Wild Child Wines to surprise the adventurous connoisseur in your life.

For the Old World fan in your life, the Passport Collection can match with a set of French and Italian cheeses like Mozzarella, Goat Cheese, Ricotta, Brie, Chambertin, Pecorino, Parmesan, and Gruyère. 

When you really want to curate something special, you can even think of a fondue kit, because why stop at just cheese when you can dip everything in it? A fondue kit and our Winemaker’s Favorites gift basket is a match made in heaven.

View the Full Infographic

Rosé of Sangiovese


Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. Rosé wine is actually made from red grapes, and this is where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink, it's everything you want in your bottle of Rosé and more.



Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

Cabernet Sauvignon


If Pinot Noir is the light and juicy queen of reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is her bolder, heavier, meatier sister. Often referred to as just “cab,” it’s the wine of France’s Bordeaux and California’s Napa Valley. There’s nothing subtle about Cabernet Sauvignon—high in alcohol, full-bodied and robust, you can usually find this red served with a ribeye, New York Strip, or filet mignon (re: carnivores love cab). Classic cabs usually offer tasting notes of chocolate, coffee, and darker fruits like prunes and plums. The Unprecedented Cabernet Sauvignon is as classic as they come, and we highly recommend letting the bottle sit and mellow until your next red meat and potatoes dinner!

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

Pinot Noir


We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

Coteaux Bourguignons


The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.



A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you're into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit tart, the more you sip, the smoother it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.


Côtes du Rhône White


This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.


Bordeaux Rouge


When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.


Ventoux Rosé


You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.



Wild Child

Say “¡Hola!” to Spain’s main grape: Tempranillo. This red grape put Rioja wine on the map and is un vino tinto classico. It’s best compared to a classic cab, but with a bit more unique magic that’s hard to put your finger on, which is why it’s a part of our Wild Child line. This medium- to full-bodied wine with its relatively higher tannins usually offers complex notes of cherry, fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill. This is the type of red wine you want to buy and pour for a Latin-infused meal; think carne asada, tacos al carbon, or just perfectly cooked steak fajita meat.


La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.




This grape goes by different names in most European countries, but what remains the same is its fruity floral nature. Delicate in every way and extremely quaffable, this wine is as dainty as they come.



We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they're low in alcohol, and medium-bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we're in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera lies somewhere between the body of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a "ladies who lunch" kind of afternoon.


Wild Child

We couldn't not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape is native along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that's incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it's "weird" only because it's not widely known by name, but chances are you've probably had it before if you've ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.



For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.


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