Not only is this decade a legendary time for winemaking in Pennsylvania, but for cheesemaking as well. Pennsylvania residents are known for giving their support to corner stores, mom-and-pop shops, and other small businesses. This has led to a wave of homesteads and farm stands having the opportunity to greatly expand their products and offerings. You won’t have to look far in PA to find a locally-sourced artisanal cheese to sit alongside your favorite wine.
Award-winning culinary author, Laura Werlin describes wine and cheese as “both [tasting] like the place where they came from.” We wholeheartedly agree with her. If you’ve experimented with artisanal cheeses in the past, you know the vast earthy flavors they can take on. Similarly, grapes from East Coast soil do not produce the same flavors as those grown out West. Pairing these fermented foods brings out those hidden notes in a way that will make you cherish Pennsylvania soil the way its founders did.
But there are more than 1,800 types of cheese out there. And over 10,000 varieties of wine grapes. So where does one begin with wine and cheese pairing? What are some of the best wine and cheese pairings to get started? Here’s everything you need to know.
Port & Stilton
A classic pairing and Anthony Bourdain’s dessert of choice, Port and Stilton awakens the senses. A Port-style wine is known for its sweet and full-bodied character. The sweeter the wine, the saltier cheese you can go for. That’s why Port-style wine is famously paired with the salty, crumbly Blue Stilton.
Take this principle with you when shopping for cheese. Look for other salty, pungent options such as feta or a hard Grana to nibble alongside your Port-style wine.
Bubbles & Soft Cheese
This classic pairing leaves you plenty of room for creativity. Whether that’s Champagne and Brie or Prosecco and Camembert, the options are endless. Soft cheeses are famously paired with sparkling wine or a light white wine. Expand your horizons with a creamy, raw cow’s milk cheese or Humboldt Fog alongside your favorite Chardonnay. The crisp and bubbly white wines serve as a refreshing companion to a bold, creamy cheese.
Cabernet Sauvignon & Aged Cheddar
With a Cabernet Sauvignon, you’re traditionally looking for a grainy but not-too-salty partner. Look for something hard or semi-hard to accompany the powerful tannin-forward glass. You don’t want a cheese that’s too soft or salty to dominate the palate. We suggest placing a locally-sourced aged cheddar or gouda sit alongside your Cabernet Sauvignon. Alternatively, sample the same selection of cheeses with a glass of the more delicate & fruity Merlot.
Create Your Own Pairings
While wine pairing is certainly about looking for a tasty experience, it’s also about having fun. So pick up a couple of bottles and cheeses that catch your eye and put together your own pairings. You’ll find undertones in each you hadn’t noticed before. Given the immense variety of wine and cheese available to you, there’s a good chance you’ll put together a combination no one’s ever tried before. One pointer for creating your own combinations: pay attention to acidity. Likely you’re going to have a selection of rich cheeses, especially if you’re looking at the artisanal variety. You want to pair that with a rather acidic wine to cut through the creaminess of the cheese.