White 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.
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 and 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).
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.
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).
If you want to present a selection of cheeses, try to have 3 or 4 to select all of which combine with a particular wine 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.
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.