Holiday Wine and Cheese Pairing


The most frequently asked questions that I get at the holiday season involve what cheeses to serve with what wines.  Many people entertain this season.  Wine and cheese pairings are easy, fun, and educational.  The problem is that most people know less about cheeses, than they know about wines.  With wonderful selections of cheeses now available from all parts of the world, the combinations are endless and it is often hard to know what to suggest.

If you are doing wine and cheese at your party this year, here are some pairings to consider.  You can create a decorative description card at each cheese with the suggested wine.  As for serving wines, choose wines based on your guests preferences.  If you do not know what wines your guests enjoy, then offer a dry white wine, a dry red wine and at least one sweet wine.   You might try something like these:

Liechester (English Cheddar) with Pinot Noir
 It is one of the easiest of all cheeses to pair with the greatest range of wines.  It has a firm consistency but not heavy in the mouth.  The flavor is strong enough to mask the tannins in reds but mild enough to flatter heavier white wines.
 The Pinot Noir is a Burgundian style red.  (Americans cannot use the term Burgundy since the treaty with France.).  It’s aged in oak and is a great wine for holiday foods.  It is my favorite red to go with turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving.  Texas Pinot Noir’s are usually darker in color than those grown in other areas due to the abundance of Texas sun.

 A Serving Suggestion: Cheddar with a mincemeat chutney and pumpernickel bread with Pinot Noir.

Brie with Chardonnay 
 Brie comes in different textures and styles.  Most brie available in stores tend to be young acidic brie.  It pairs beautifully with crisp white wines while more mature, ripe brie pair well with reds like Pinot Noir. 
 Chablis is usually recommended in France. Chablis is made from the Chardonnay grape.  There are un-oaked Chardonnay’s and there are barrel fermented or oak aged Chardonnay’s.  The un-oaked are currently the most popular style of Chardonnay.  The un-oaked and lightly oaked Chardonnay’s are my favorite with Brie.  

 A Serving Suggestion:   Wrap brie in pastry dough and bake it until soft on the inside and golden brown on the outside.  Then, serve with toast points and Chardonnay.

Stilton Blueberry with Port
 Stilton is the classic dessert wine with Port and a tradition at the holiday season.  Moldy flavors of this strong flavored cheese can fight with dry wines but is perfect harmony with sweet wines.  In today’s world of cheese there are some very festive stiltons of different flavors such as the Blueberry Stilton. 
 Port was made for stilton.  Since port has the higher alcohol content of 18 – 22 percent and the smooth sweetness, it perfectly balances the big flavor and texture of Stilton. 

 A Serving Suggestion: Scoop out a small hole in the top of the stilton and fill with port.  Let soak for 2 weeks and then serve with ginger snaps.