Chardonnay and Cheese – How best to Combine

By | June 1, 2015

Introduction

Chardonnay and cheeseWhite wines, and definitely the various Chardonnays, go best with cheese platters, in fact almost any cheese platter. Cheese and wine is a true classic. But what is the right fit? What can and what cannot be done?  The possibilities seem endless. A marriage of cheese and wine is not necessarily easy. Cheese with its salted character has often a distinct flavour and has more or less a dense texture to a nuanced approach. Too often the subtle flavour of the wine will be overshadowed by the stronger flavour of the cheese.

Generally speaking, one can say that cheeses and wines from the same area fit well with each other. My experience is that wines and cheeses should complement each other’s tastes, and if this is the case then you will have found your ideal wine (Chardonnay) cheese pairing.

How to pair best?

There are a number of obvious – or known combinations. But there are even more adventurous combinations, which are usually the result of a pleasant trial and error, which deliver an excellent result. You can look for combinations of tastes that have an equal basis and/or reinforce each other. 

Summarized you can put it like this. With a sweet creamy cheese, which are best fresh and high in fat, young supple wines pair well.  Fruity white or red wines go well with spicy cheeses. And spicy or salty cheeses fit best with a luscious sweet wine.Chardonnay and cheese

It is also said that successful pairing lies in balancing fatty acid and flavour. It is proposed to serve lighter, fresh cheeses like chevre, brie, mozzarella in brine, cottage cheese, blues, Gouda or pressed Pecorino like Manchego with light wines such as Chardonnay.

And if you want to combine oaked Chardonnay with cheese, then go for semi-hard ripened cheeses such as mature Gouda and Comté. Continue reading and you will find more ideal combinations of Chardonnay and cheese.

Handy Rules of Thumb

The more pungent the cheese or the dish the more powerful the wine should be while maintaining a comfortable balance.

The whiter and fresher the cheese, the fresher and fruitier the wine should be. With the heavier, full of white-rind cheeses a good white wine such as Chardonnay will fit. The harder and darker the cheese, the heavier and thicker the wine may be. Blue Vein Cheese in contrast, often are accompanied by sweet wines, but also go well with full-bodied Chardonnay.

White mould cheeses

The most famous white mould cheeses are Brie and Camembert. The crust contains aromas of nuts and almonds andChardonnay and cheeses is decisive for the structure of the cheese flavour. The creaminess of these cheeses requires a smooth wine with a soft fruitiness. The white wine that best suits the taste of Brie and Camembert is wine from the Chardonnay. The aromas and taste impressions from the Chardonnay lie in the extension of the typical cheese aromas.

Washed rind cheese

These cheeses are washed with salt water and allow a natural white fungus and an orange to red crust forms (Reblochon, Munster, Epoisses, Pont l’Eveque, Herve, Maroilles, Livarot). Through this crust and maturing, these cheeses have a distinctive character. Wines that fit well are wines that have enough body (fullness, round flavours) to match  this strong taste, such as premier cru white Burgundy or New World Chardonnay (California, Chile, Australia, New Zealand).

Chardonnay and cheeseHard cheese

This bulky group of cheeses includes all the strong cheeses, whether they are of the Gouda-type, from the Emmental type or of the type of mountain cheeses. Not only these different types of flavours are a factor but also the maturation of the cheese plays a major role. Young cheeses are creamier and are fresh flavoured. Young Emmental type cheeses additionally have their specific little spicier aroma and flavour. For these young hard cheeses a Chardonnay without wood ageing is the best pairing when it comes to a similar taste pattern.

Goat cheese

Fresh goat cheese has a fine texture and is a delicate cheese with high acidity. Young goat cheeses are best with dry white wines like various types of Chardonnays from somewhat “colder” climates (Chablis).

Cheese platters

If you want to present a selection of cheeses, try to have 3 or 4 to select all of which combine with a particular wineChardonnay and cheese style. Dry or sweeter white wines often appear to be a pleasant companion of our cheese board. Their acidity provides the necessary freshness and can thus keep the salty flavour of the cheese in balance while their fruitiness meets their strong flavour personality. The absence of tannins in white wine explains this successful combination. One of the best options for pairing with cheese platters is a medium to heavy Chardonnay.

Conclusion

Cheese and wine are both products of a specific region of origin, the unique combination of natural factors that give them their specificity. Therefore they fit in so well with each other. In order to find the tastiest pairing combinations it really is a matter of three things: taste, taste and taste again. If you are a wine and cheese lover, just find out for yourself what is the best combination. I hope I have given you some handy ground rules which will help you in your adventure. Lots of cheese and wine fun!

Here is your help to finding and getting access to the right Chardonnay to pair with your cheese. I have reviewed and rated a lot of the world’s best Chardonnays. When you go to the three images to the right (for mobile users just under this text) under the heading World best Chardonnays for delivery to and choose USA, UK or Australia and you will find a summary of my reviews plus links.

Please feel free to share your experiences and leave a comment or question, which I will reply to within 24 hours.

8 thoughts on “Chardonnay and Cheese – How best to Combine

  1. MARIANNE FERNANDEZ

    Thank you for this article!
    I visited Yarra Valley when I lived in Australia and it was an amazing experience! I visited a lot of places and did a website about it with some articles 🙂

    Reply
    1. Jerry Post author

      You are welcome Marianne. Living in Australia must be great with all these famous wine areas close. Chardonnays from these areas are among the best in the world and they are good with a majority of cheeses.

      Reply
  2. Sylvia

    Hi Jerry!
    I want some wine and cheese now! 😀
    I really enjoyed reading your post as I’ve always wanted to learn food & wine pairing.
    I’ll try some of your suggestions.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Jerry Post author

      Hi Sylvia, thank you for your message. Just try a cheese platter with a full bodied Chardonnay and enjoy! Cheers, Jerry

      Reply
  3. Emily

    hi Jerry!
    Tons of great information in this post! I love white wine and I am a big fan of unoaked chardonnay. And I love cheese! I have not had a cheese platter in so long though. Being alone I hardly ever prepare a platter for myself…But your tips here are easy to follow and make sense. And you are right, the main point here is taste. And that can be a personal thing

    Reply
    1. Jerry Post author

      Hi Emily, thanks for your reaction. Since the early nineties oaked Chardonnay has become less popular and unoaked ones increased. Oaked Chardonnays are still there though, albeit they are oaked less than before. If you like brie, goat cheese and blue cheeses, take a full bodied Chardonnay and go for it! Cheers, Jerry

      Reply
  4. Chris evans

    Great post on Chardonnay! I’m a bit of a red wine freak so I’ve never really ventured into the Chardonnay territory. My partner is trying to twist my arm towards white and I’ve been dabbling in it here and there over the last few weeks. Seem to be leaning more towards the dry versions!
    Great article
    Cheers for sharing

    Reply
    1. Jerry Post author

      Hi Chris, thank you for your reaction. You should see some of my recommendations for Chardonnay wines here. Cheers, Jerry

      Reply

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