Obama and Biden, peanut butter and jelly, Tom Brady and his right hand… some things are meant to go together. Another classic partnership: pinot noir cheese pairing. Sure, a glass of pinot noir by itself is a well-deserved treat. But add in some cheese and you’re all set for a gastronomic delight. Learn about the cheeses that best complement this light red wine.
The best cheese with pinot noir
As a light red wine, pinot noir is really versatile when it comes to pairing it with cheese. However, because it’s quite a delicate grape without the boldness of heavier reds, you need to be careful not to overpower a pinot noir. This means avoiding really strong stinky cheeses and fresh goat cheeses.
Instead, the ideal cheese pairing for pinot noir is delicate washed-rind cheeses (like Taleggio) and nutty, medium-firm cheeses (like Gruyere). Less cheesy cheeses also work, like soft cheeses such as Brie or Camembert. Heck, you can even go for a lighter yet still tangy blue like Cambozola. These will complement the taste of the wine, without overpowering it.
Made from cow’s milk, this semi-soft, washed-rind Italian cheese is named after the caves of Val Taleggio and is one of the world’s oldest soft cheeses. Harking back to its ancient origins, Taleggio traditionally undergoes a weekly washing with seawater to prevent it from growing mould during the cheese making process.
Although it has a strong smell, it has a fruity and mild flavour with a creamy texture, making it a good cheese to pair with pinot noir.
Originally made in Switzerland, Gruyere is a smooth cow’s milk cheese that melts beautifully. (For a throwback evening, you could serve fondue alongside pinot noir - full 70s moustache and questionable sweater optional.) Firm, it’s normally pale yellow and has a creamy and slightly nutty taste. It’s this delicate taste that makes it perfect with pinot noir.
Like most Swiss cheeses, it has a few small holes (also called eyes) that form by gas bubbles that are released by the bacteria used in the cheese making.
Dutch cheese Gouda is one of the world’s most popular cheeses - it’s estimated about 50 to 60% of our global cheese consumption is this Dutch delight. Which isn’t that surprising, as this semi-hard cheese has a beautiful rich flavour and smooth texture. Gouda is a little like Gruyere, but it’s got a fuller flavour that’s more nutty and somewhat sweet.
There are 7 different types of Gouda, with each later type firmer and richer than earlier ones. Plus, the older the Gouda, the darker the waxed rinds. It’s medium aged Gouda with more of a flavour than younger ones (but not as pronounced as older ones) that works best with pinot noir.
Probably the best known French cheese, Brie is a soft cheese that never tastes the same here as it does at home in France. That’s because real French brie is unstabilised with a slightly brown surface. Here, we eat it while it’s still pure white - or when it’s not fully matured. (Exported Brie must be stabilised, which means it never matures.)
Known for its buttery, soft texture, creamy colour and strong aroma, Brie has a fruity, mild and slightly nutty flavour that ensures your mouthful of Pinot Noir isn’t overtaken by a cheesy taste.
Although Camembert also hails from France and has a white rind, this soft cheese tastes quite different from Brie. It’s got a deeper, more intense and slightly earthier flavour. Generally, Brie contains more fat than Camembert - Brie uses 60% milk fat, Camembert uses 45% milk fat. Finally, Brie tends to have a softer, creamier texture than Camembert.
So, if you’re looking for a soft French cheese that has more taste than Brie but still has a mild, creamy taste that’s great with the fruity notes of pinot noir, stock up on Camembert.
The sharp tang of blue cheese might not seem like the obvious answer to the question of what cheese pairs with pinot noir, but we reckon Cambozola might change your mind. This semi-soft German cheese is extremely creamy, with some blue veins throughout.
The sharp sweetness of this cheese contrasts beautifully with the smoothness of pinot noir.