The tannins in red wine often clash with cheeses, so red wines are less successful. A cheese with a high fat content tends to dilute the harsh tannins. The fat in cheese coats the palate and smoothes out a wine’s rough edges, making the tannin in red wines appear more supple and the acidity in whites seem less astringent. Typically red wine is served with cheese, but many feel that white wines with light or no oaking are far more compatible with most cheeses.
The stronger the flavour of the cheese, the sweeter and weightier the wine should be. For powerful cheese like Roquefort and Danish blue, go for equally powerful wines like port and sherry. White wines generally goes better with creamy cheese (brie and camembert) than does red. Or you can serve a light chillable red, such as Beaujolais or Valpolicella. The act of chilling brings out the perception of acidity.
Decide whether you want a complementary flavour match ( a crisp, dry white wine with a buttery, nutty cheese, for example) or a contrasting flavour match (such as a salty blue cheese with a sweet, round red wine).
Next month we will list common cheeses and suggested wine pairings.