Like Bert & Ernie or PB&J, some things are destined for each other. And so, it goes with wine and cheese. Many of New Jersey’s wineries offer cheese to snack on while enjoying their wines, because, quite frankly, could there be anything better? When you’re at a winery sipping wine and nibbling on cheese, have you ever had a bad experience? We’re betting the answer to that is, “No.”
While they’re a classic pairing, picking wines and cheeses that play well together can get complicated. Entire tomes have been devoted to this subject and even scientific research to support the “wine and cheese work well together” idea.
A 2016 French study found that “cheese consumption had an impact on dominance duration of attributes and on preference for most wines.” Put in more simple language, the subjects in the study drank wine alone and then drank the same wines with cheese. All the subjects said that eating cheese made the experience of drinking wine even better.
Why is that? Wine is astringent – it causes the mouth to pucker up. Cheese is fatty – it causes the mouth to salivate. When the two are paired together, they sort of even each other and create complementary sensations in the mouth that causes it to utter a satisfying, “Yum.”
In other words, putting together wine and cheese should be considered carefully, but not obsessed over.
At the wineries, they’ve probably done some experimenting with choosing cheeses that go well with a variety of their wines, so you don’t have to. But, what if you’re not at the winery? You can still pair New Jersey wine with cheese, and we have some tips to make it easy for you.
- Pick 3 or 4 cheeses that you like. If you want to make it interesting, get both hard and soft cheeses. Maybe try both goat and cow’s milk cheeses.
- Bring the cheese to room temperature before serving. This is important. When the fat in the cheese warms up, flavor and aromas are released that aren’t as recognizable when the cheese is cold. The texture of the cheese becomes softer. When the aromas, flavor and texture of cheese are at room temperature, the cheese is ready for the wine.
Grab your favorite New Jersey wines. It’s that simple. Dry wines and semi-dry wines work best when pairing with cheese. We suggest serving one red and one white wine and trying each of them with each cheese.
Specific Pairing Suggestions
- DiBruno Bros Horseradish Spread – If you’re familiar with DiBruno Bros., cheese store that originated in South Philly’s Italian market, you’ll probably know that their cheese is now available in many grocery stores. For their Horseradish spread, we recommend Monroeville Winery Barrel Aged Chambourcin or Four Sisters Chambourcin.
- Parmesan Cheese: This aged, nutty cheese needs a tannic red or a full bodied white. Try Autumn Lake Sangiovese, Plagido’s Winery Coeur d’ Est, and Cedarvale Winery Chardonnay with Parm.
- Goat Cheese: Soft, tangy goat cheese works really well with Terhune Orchards Vidal Blanc, Autumn Lake Traminette, and Monroeville Winery Gruner Veltliner.
- Stilton Cheese: Stilton and other mild blue cheeses are fantastic with a variety of wines. Try Laurita Winery Cabernet Franc, Autumn Lake Winery Ore (port-style), or Plagido’s Winery Empire (port-style). For a white wine choice, try Villari Vineyards Moscato – the sweetness will complement the saltiness of the blue cheese.
- Aged Cheddar: Have you ever added a slice of cheddar cheese atop a slice of apple and popped it in your mouth? While many wines go with cheddar, we’re going to suggest apple wine. Try Monroeville Winery Semi-sweet Apple wine or Cedarvale Winery Apple Table Wine.
Laurita Winery Meritage Wine
And, for Manchego Cheese, Kate Devine, officially the director marketing and entertainment at Laurita, and unofficially the director of all things wine and cheese, shared her favorite approach with us.
“Our Meritage is fairly new and a fan favorite,” she says. “I love it too. It is a Cabernet and Merlot blend, which makes it smooth and magnificent, and one of my favorite pairings for cheese. I particularly love Manchego with our Meritage. Made from sheep’s milk, it’s the perfect trifecta of tangy, buttery and firm.”
Sounds pretty perfect to us.