Maybe you've had a long, hard work week or perhaps you're celebrating a special occasion. Regardless of the reason, throwing a dinner party with friends and family is always a fun time. However, planning what to serve for food and drink can sometimes leave you overwhelmed. Luckily, you can never go wrong with the time-honored tradition of wine and cheese pairings.
Red wine can lend an air of luxuriousness and romanticism to any event. Check out six of the best red wine and cheese pairings to elevate your next party and leave your guests happy (and full!).
Merlot & Gouda Cheese
Merlot is a fruitful wine, especially in warmer climates that bring out the ripeness of the grapes. Pairing the aged Dutch Gouda cheese with a Merlot will help complement the overall sweetness of that fruit flavor. The semi-hard Gouda cheese has a rich texture, a unique flavor and is often enhanced with herbs and other seasonings. Its saltiness will balance out the sweetness of the Merlot, making for a perfect salty and sweet combo.
Malbec & Italian Taleggio Cheese
Malbec is a full-bodied red with dark fruit flavors; black cherries, raspberries, blackberries and plums are the ingredients of choice. Malbec pairs well with Taleggio, a soft cheese with a strong smell and mild flavor, often with a fruity tang. The Taleggio will help balance the pepper and spice flavor of the wine.
Syrah & St. Nectaire Cheese
Syrah wines, also called Shiraz, are some of the darkest reds in the wine spectrum, with flavors that vary greatly depending on age and where the grapes originated. Young Syrahs from the Rhone Valley in France are known for a spicy, black pepper flavor. The St. Nectaire is a semi-soft cheese with a creamy, silky texture. This French cheese has flavors of nuts, hay and mushrooms that complement the intense Syrah wine.
Nebbiolo & Fontina Cheese
Nebbiolo is a distinctively aromatic wine high in tannins with complex flavors. Nebbiolo ages well with time, bringing out hints of blackberry, licorice and other aromas. Tannic reds are best when matched with a rich, aged cheese that can cleanse the palate after each bite. The classic Italian fontina cheese is a perfect example. This semi-soft cheese has a mild, but rich and sweet flavor to balance the full-bodied complex taste of a Nebbiolo red.
Cabernet Sauvignon & Italian Asiago Cheese
Cabernet Sauvignon is a robust red wine with a solid tannic structure that carries subtle hints of black fruit (think plum, blueberry and blackberry), as well as more warm spice, vanilla, black pepper or, sometimes, even leather flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon should be paired with an Italian Asiago cheese. Asiago has a sharp, somewhat sweet and nut-like flavor reminiscent of parmesan that will go well with the richness of the wine.
Pinot Noir & Cheddar Cheese
Pinot Noirs are versatile dry red wines ranging from light to medium-bodied. A dark Pinot Noir is often characterized with flavors of strawberries, cherries, raspberries, and blackberries and hints of warm spices. Pinot Noir should be served with a light cheddar cheese that has a firm, smooth texture and a mild smoked and sweet flavor.
Next time you want to wow your guests, set up a great wine and cheese tasting at your dinner party. Good food and good wine will always ensure that your guests have a good time!