Murray's Beverage Pairing Guide Wine and Cheese. Beer and Cheese. Bourbon and Cheese. Tequila and Cheese. Whiskey and Cheese. Cocktails and Cheese. Whatever you're drinking, we've got a cheese that pairs beautifully with it. Here are some general rules on pairing!
Cabernet Sauvignon Full-bodied with no shortage of flavor. This grape is grown in almost every climate, which means lots of diversity across bottles.
Old World Cabernet Earthy with aromas of leather, hay, and dark dried fruits. Sometimes a hint of eucalyptus or violet.
Pair with: Cheese with flavor that can stand up to this big wine. Alpine style cheeses like Comte or Challerhocker and some sweeter blues like Bleu d’Auvergne would make a good match.
New World Cabernet Characterized by bold oaky flavors and high levels of tannins. These wines are about as full-bodied as you can get, very jammy with flavors of reduced fruit.
Pair with: Sweet clothbound cheddar or a Grana style cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano or Podda Classico.
Chardonnay This wine is all over the map – literally! Flavor varies widely depending on where and how it’s made.
Old World Chardonnay: crisp and minerally, with flavors of apples and roasted pears.
Pair with: Fresh or bloomy rind cheese, like Delice de Bourgogne
New World Chardonnay (USA, warmer climates) richly buttery and oaky, heavy notes of vanilla, brown butter, and tropical fruits.
Pair with: Slightly stronger cheese like sweet Tickler cheddar, or a mild washed rind.
Oxidized Chardonnay: When Chardonnay is intentionally exposed to air it is “oxidized.” Common in the Jura mountain region, this wine is almost sherry-like with spicy, nutty flavors.
Pair with: Play up the bolder flavors with a more complex or funky cheese. Almost any Alpine cheese, like Comte, or earthy aged goat cheese like Chevrot make a great match.
Chenin Blanc Crisp and acidic with light minerality. You may smell stone fruit, apples, pear, quince, even some fresh herbs.
Pair with Tangy Loire Valley goat cheese to bring out crisp, mineral qualities in both. Something like Selles-sur-Cher will work perfectly!
Chianti Chianti is named for a region in Italy, and is actually made from a blend of grapes (mostly Sangiovese). This dry, medium-bodied wine has a distinct herbal quality (think rosemary and oregano) with flavors of dried plums and cherries.
Pair with: An herb-crusted cheese like Hudson Flower or a Tuscan Pecorino.
Malbec This rustic wine is inky and dark, full-bodied with plenty of tannins. Fruity flavors of plums and berries are contrasted by spice and leather.
Pair with Equally toothsome cheeses like Boerenkaas Gouda.
Merlot A smooth and medium-bodied wine with a more rounded flavor than other reds. Dark fruits are present but with minimal tannins and no noticeable spice.
Pair with Earthy tommes like Toma Walser, mellow Fontina, or a lightly aged goat cheese like Leonora.
Pinot Grigio A lighter, crisper white wine. Tends to be refreshing and fruity, with aromas of stone fruit, peach, quince, and lemon.
Pair with Creamy goat or mixed milk cheese with a crisp acidic element. La Tur or Brunet are great alongside the fruit-tart flavors of the wine.
Pinot Noir Lighter bodied and delicate. Old World style generally offers more funk, New World more fruit.
Old World Pinot Flavors of fresh cherries and raspberry balanced by a barnyard funk and high minerality. Sometimes has floral aromas, reminiscent of rose petal.
Pair with Almost anything! Works with funky Frenchies Epoisses and Langres, or mild natural rinds like Tomme de Savoie.
New World Pinot More sugary, with jam-like fruit, dried cherries, oak, and spice.
Pair with: Full, fatty flavors. Alpines, cheddars, and Manchego.
Port Vintage Port possesses extraordinary power, with deep fruit, spice, and chocolate. Full bodied with integrated tannin, vintage Port needs a powerful cheese to stand up to its strength. Anything mellow or subtle may get brushed aside. Tawny Ports change flavour profile depending on their age; at 10, 20 and 30 years old. The traditional 20 year-old version, which I will focus on, is usually sweeter with secondary characters coming to the fore. It is a superb alternative to other sweet dessert wines, such as Madeira or late harvest Riesling and Tokaji.
Riesling This food-friendly wine ranges from super sweet to quite dry. Acidity, minerality, and aromas of tropical fruit are almost always present.
Dry Characterized by bracing acidity and stark minerality. Tropical fruit on the nose, stunningly balanced flavor overall.
Pair with This versatile wine works equally well with a fresh chevre (bringing out acidity) as it does a stinker like Willoughby (playing up the sweet/salty contrast).
Sweet The other end of the spectrum offers a cloyingly sweet, syrupy wine. Aromas of ripe peaches and tropical fruit dominate, along with floral, perfumed accents.
Pair with With something this strong it’s best to contrast the sweetness with something funky or salty: A pungent washed rind like Grayson or a punchy blue like Bleu du Bocage.
Rosé We love them all! Everything from light, crisp Provence style to deep and fruity Spanish Rosados. Don’t be afraid to enjoy rosé year-round, but we like the summer staple best with refreshing, mild cheeses that are great in warm weather.
Pair with Young chevres like Coupole and bloomy rinds like Moses Sleeper for the lighter stuff. A darker, fruitier rosé can stand up to a heavier cheese like nutty Pecorino Oro Antico. Sparkling rosé is a perfect match for Nettle Meadow Kunik.
Sauvignon Blanc Typically bright and lemony, with clean citrus flavors. Can also have grassy and vegetal aromas (think green bell pepper).
Pair with: Soft, creamy goat milk cheeses, triple crèmes or mixed milk cheeses with a mineral edge, like Nettle Meadow Kunik or La Tur.
Sparkling Wine Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, anything with bubbles!
Pair with: The effervescence of Sparkling Wines makes for a great pairing with richer, fattier cheeses that coat the mouth: think La Tur and Brunet, or a triple creme like Brillat Savarin or Delice de Bourgogne. Murray's Cavemaster Reserve 2 Year Annelies
Tempranillo Medium-bodied with flavors of cherry, as well as some cranberry which lends bright acidity. Cinnamon and clove spices, and earthy, leathery flavors balance things out.
Pair with Sheep’s milk cheese like Malvarosa or Pyrenees Brebis, flavored cheese (truffles, herbs, or spices), and younger leaf-wrapped cheeses with some funk.
Cider Brie and apples, cheddar and apples – both delicious! Why not extend that deliciousness to apples in liquid form? Enjoy cider and cheese for a pairing to remember.
English style: drier, more like a beer, with nice acidity.
Pair with Just about anything but we love it with firm natural rind cheese, like Landaff.
Basque/Normandy barnyardy and funky, but still with a little sweetness.
Pair with: A beefy washed rind, like Grayson to contrast the sugar and bring out the funk.
American Cider often, but not always on the sweeter side.
Pair with: Sweet and earthy Bleu Mont Bandaged Cheddar or malty Bleu d’Auvergne
Farmhouse Ales & Sours Farmhouse, Saison, Bière de Garde, Lambic, Sour Beer
Farmhouse ales, instead of being driven by malt or hops, depend on the yeast for their distinctive spicy, floral, and tart flavors. Commonly made by brewers in France and Belgium, farmhouse ales are usually light in color and body and quite effervescent. From time to time, brewers allow wild yeasts to ferment the beer, resulting in a brew that falls somewhere in between pleasantly bright to bracingly sour.
Pair with Mushroomy Brie Fermier or funky, bacony Epoisses are matches made in heaven.
Lagers and Kolsch Lager, Dunkel, Schwarz, Pilsner, Kolsch Ale
Lagers run the gamut from crisp, pale Pilsners to dark-malted Dunkels and Märzens. Flavors are typically approachable and mellow, a delicate balance of toasted bread, gentle sweetness, and mild hop bitterness for structure.
Pair with Almost any firm, mild cheese like Tomme de Savoie or Landaff Creamery Landaff.
Pale Ales & IPAs Hoppy Beers - Pale Ale, IPA, Amber, Red Ale
Hops, glorious hops! Think of hops as the seasoning for beer: they lend the bitter yin to balance malt’s sugary yang. In IPAs and other hoppy beers this humble flower takes center stage. Flavors range from grassy to grapefruit, earthy and dry to resinous pine, depending on which hop varietals are used.
Pair with Cheeses with enough body to stand up to the bitterness, like clothbound cheddar or aged Gouda.
Porters and Stouts Porter, Stout, Imperial Stout
Welcome to the dark side of beer. Porters and Stouts are born of heavily roasted malted barley, which colors the beer and develops toasty flavors recalling chocolate, coffee, and chicory. Looks can be deceiving, though: dark doesn’t always mean strong. Porters and stouts can be incredibly light in body, or big boozy affairs that pour like syrup.
Pair with A mild, creamy blue like Cambozola Black.
Strong Beers Barleywine, Old Ale, Strong Ale, Scotch Ale
Big and intense, with an alcohol punch to match, don’t underestimate any of these guys. Flavors will favor the malty side of the spectrum, with dark fruit, leather, and tobacco notes common. You will taste the booze. And it will be delicious.
Pair with A cheese equally big in flavor. Dunbarton Blue has subtle bluing and a savory-sweet gouda flavor that will be a perfect match for these tough brews.
Wheat Beers Wheat Beer, Weisse, Hefeweizen, Wit
Pair with Bright, tangy goat’s milk cheeses like Westfield Capri and buttery bloomy rinds like Nettle Meadow Kunik.
Bourbon Think: Caramelly, crystalline cheeses have the strength to stand up to bolder booze. With sweet bourbon, these cheeses become almost like dessert.
Gin When picking out a cheese to nibble on while you sip your favorite gin cocktail, think bright and springy. Something fresh that will bring out the spirit’s citrusy, botanical notes.
Scotch Whisky Scotch whisky is every bit as diverse, intricate, and nuanced as cheese, so it helps to know which whiskies go best with which cheeses. Unique and complex, the sweetness can enhance the caramel and toffee notes for which cheese is so beloved.
Tequila When it comes to those clean, crisp agave flavors, Crystal is the ideal Blanco tequila. Lingering beneath, there are notes of honey, buttery-sweetness, and hints of limey citrus. After aging in a French White Oak barrel for an entire year, Reposado emerges smooth and full-bodied. The oak imparts notes of smokiness, while hints of vanilla, lemongrass, and wildflowers lingers with each taste. Aged for two full years in French White Oak barrels, Anejo develops into a complex balance of dried fruits and piquant spices. Toasted oak, butterscotch, and vanilla are the key flavors that linger on the tongue.
TryMozzarella Company Hoja Santa 6 oz
Vodka Pairing vodka and cheese may seem counterintuitive, but the truth is that this clean spirit appreciates nuanced cheeses that help bring out the subtleties of its flavor.