HOME > Chowhound > Wine >


Meat, cheese and wine pairings..help!

Hi all! New to chow..I need help. Throwing a wine tasting girls night in for fellow wives at hubbys company. I want to keep it nice but simple. Im looking for 6 wines, with two cheeses each to pair, and any appetizer meats that would compliment each. I'll take any and all advice!! Thanks for helping this frazzled newbie impress. :-)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you live near a cheese and wine shop, they could probably be very helpful in sorting that out.

    I'd say twelve cheeses are too many, I'd limit that to five or six.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I've even enjoyed wine-tastings with one firm, complex cheese. It's fun to taste different wines paired with the same cheese.

    2. Loathe as I am to suggest that someone should buy less cheese I agree with RL that 12 cheeses is too many.
      As it's a wine tasting I'd concentrate on that first. Not sure if you're concentrating on a region or a style of wine but this may help refine the cheese and meat pairings.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Paprikaboy

        Ok, thanks guys. So, I live in the Pensacola, FL and there is limited selection here other than whole foods and a wine store. Can you suggest some basic wines under $20 a bottle, and what semi mainstream cheese might work?

        I was thinking a Reisling, Chardonnay, Cabernet S., Port maybe?

        I wanted to do like some flavorful meats like summer sausage (saucison sp?), Italian meets, etc.

        None of these women coming are overly savvy on wine either so I want to keep it simple but good.

        1. re: rm2slam

          Easy. and a great question, you will be the host with the most with this event...

          Riesling: one and only one "best" cheese here: Emmenthal, a sublime match worth the trip just for this. Serve with sausages.

          Chardonnay: Must have plain chevre here. Comte and Gruyere also delicious matches. Brie is classic, I'm not quite as in love w/brie here but it's okay. Havarti very good too. Great to serve with simple seafood treats like shrimp or crab.

          Cabernet Sauv: Parmesan reggiano is etheral match. Aged cheddar (4yrs is best to me). Provolone, aged gouda, and plain chevre also work real nice here. Serve with some little grilled red meat dish like simply-prepared kebabs.

          Pinot noir would be an interesting fit for this event. In cheese, pair it with chevre, epoisses, havarti, and roquefort. Also very old cheddar (8yrs...). Serve with grilled fresh tuna bites (which also matches your chardonnay and riesling!).

          Port? I'd do Sauternes instead and pair it with roquefort, the single-greatest cheese and wine pairing on the planet. Your guests with rave for months :)

          SO: Let's go with Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and Sauternes as your wines.

          Match them up with Chevre, emmental, havarti, parmesan reggiano, aged cheddar, and roquefort. Suggest certain pairings and your guests will discover the difference between great and not-so-great pairings, so the event becomes fun and educational at the same time.

          Serve a fruit dessert dish at the end, sauternes will match it wonderfully.

          Enjoy and tell 'em the Shadow sent you :)

          1. re: TombstoneShadow

            I find your recommendations bizarre. Each of those grape varieties makes a wide variety of wines.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Say what?
              If you find matching sauternes and roquefort, or cabernet and parmesan, or riesling and emmental "bizarre", I can't help you.

            2. re: TombstoneShadow

              I want to cry, this is EXACTLY the response I had hoped for. A simple road map. Hats off to you!!!

              1. re: rm2slam

                Sauternes and Roquefort are both quite specific and a classic pairing. Any rich blue cheese will work.

                Reggiano goes with any wine. Pretty much the same goes for Gouda.

                Cheddar and Provolone come in radically different degrees of sharpness, which can make them clash with some wines.

                "Plain chevre" is dozens of styles of cheese, some of which are pretty hostile to some dry reds.

                Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Noir are grape varieties each used to make a wide variety of styles. Saying one of them goes with any particular cheese (except go-with-anything cheeses such as Reggiano) just seems wrong to me, depends on the wine. For example, some Pinot Noirs would be brutally overpowered by a ripe Époisses while others would be delightful.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  While "any rich blue cheese works", to my palate roquefort is decidedly more interesting with Sauternes than say, gorgonzola or stilton... I'm not looking for something that "works" but rather an awesome flavor match.

                  While Regianno matches to a greater or lesser extent with a wide list of wines, it is so much better to my palate with cabernet than it is with chardonnay, pinot, or riesling... again looking for sublime not "workable" matches.

                  I also don't find that gouda is such a great universal wine match. It's yuck with chenin blanc to my palate, just fair with Pinot...

                  Cheddar does come in wide range. I specifically designated a 4yr-old for the cabernet and even older for the pinot. Just based on my actual tastings.

                  For provolone I recommend valpadana, my benchmark for provo.

                  To me plain chevre means plain goat cheese without any added flavorings / herbs / etc. such as this one from Murrays: http://www.murrayscheese.com/cheese/f... If you go to the average cheese shop and ask for "plain chevre" you're not going to be bombarded with "dozens of different cheeses", where do you shop?

                  There's just nothing "bizarre" about this, it's simple wine and cheese matching.

                  1. re: TombstoneShadow

                    Most of the time I shop at the Cheese Board in Berkeley. They have dozens of goat cheeses in stock at any given time and the vast majority of them are not flavored.

                    The bizarre part is talking about grape varieties that make a variety of radically different wines as if they all paired with the same thing.

              2. re: TombstoneShadow

                I am excited, I have a good plan now!!! :-) Thanks!!!!!!

              3. re: rm2slam

                Googling around Pensacola I find Four Winds International Food Market, which appears to have good selections of cheeses and wines and staff with informed opinions to help you pair them.


            3. Hey, just go to Whole Foods. They'll probably set up the whole thing for you.

              One of the reasons I moved to France was to enjoy the best cheeses in the world, but as I was packing my bags the wonderful raw milk cheese from France were finally arriving at Whole Foods.

              As usual I agree with wise Robert - 5 or 6 cheeses.

              You ought to have a goat cheese for openers and a stronger blue to finish (Roquefort, its cow milk cousin Fourme d'Ambert or Maytag Blue which I can't stop eating it's so good). In between they'll love Brie (everybody does but not me), something hard like Comté or Gruyere or a good Vermont or English cheddar, maybe a Pyrenees, and sublime Tomme de Savoie or Manchego. Or American equivalents of these.

              1 Reply
              1. I agree with Tombstone and also with Robert... I would go with a Bourgogne Rouge for your Pinot Noir. You're on the East Coast, so you'll be able to find better value Pinots from France than from California, imho.

                I also agree on the specificity of Sauternes and Roquefort. No other blue cheese goes so well with Sauternes as Roquefort. And imho, Stilton does not go at all. It goes with Port... :) I do like St. Supery's Moscato with Point Reyes Blue, but that's a story for another day.

                1. Guys, I have a few more questions regarding food/appetizers... I have decided to go with TS's suggestions:

                  Riesling with Emmenthal, app: sausages

                  Chardonnay with Chevre, possibly also Greyere; app: marinated shrimp (good choice?)

                  Cab Sauv with Parmesan Reggiano; app: ??? I am not a great cook and I work full time so suggestions on something easy for me to prepare that would go?

                  Pinor Noir with 8+ year cheddar, possibly epoisses; app: it was suggested to do grilled tuna bites, but I know NOTHING about fresh fish prep, and wanted to try something that didn't involve grilling or bieng good a searing. LOL, any suggestions for alternatives?

                  Sauternes with Roquefort; app: ???

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: rm2slam

                    Without knowing which Chardonnay, chevre, or Pinot Noir, how sharp the cheddar is, or how ripe the Époisses was, it's impossible to guess. Could be delightful or an unpleasant clash.

                    Pinot Noir + sharp / rip cheese + seared tuna sounds like a bad idea.

                    Why not go to the wine and cheese store where they know what works with what and trust them?

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I'm cool with Pinot Noir with seared tuna and with Epoisses.

                      Until I got June's recipe for lemon/caper butter over seared tuna, I always drank acidic reds such as Beaujolais crus and Pinot Noir with seared tuna.

                      1. re: collioure

                        The right Pinot Noir could be good with both tuna and Époisses, it's all three at the same time that I'd worry about. Mostly tuna with Époisses sounds nasty.

                    2. re: rm2slam

                      I would recommend adding some vegetarian / lighter fare into the mix unless you know the dietary choices of the group. Perhaps some spiced nuts with the Riesling, I think the shrimp are a good idea, do a chicken sausage, fruit to accompany some of the plates, and something sweet with the Sauternes. The other recommendation for something easy are frozen apps that you just heat, like mini quiche or spanikopia.

                      1. re: rm2slam

                        For me, Sauternes with Roquefort is perfect for dessert, but if you want something else more dessert-y, I'd suggest an apple tart that's not overly sweet.

                      2. What about a Bruschetta bar where they can make their own to include fresh tomatoes, roasted red pepers, olive tapenade, sundried tomato pesto, garlic-feta dip??

                        Or smoked salmon of some type?

                        Stuffed mushrooms?

                        6 Replies
                          1. re: rm2slam

                            Also, the flavors you're proposing for the bruschetta toppings are rather strong and may offset the wines rather than compliment them.

                            1. re: rm2slam

                              Smoked salmon is awesome match for the chardonnay, just incredible, and will work with a smear of chevre.

                              Robert cautioned re epoisses and tuna, makes sense.

                              Marinated shrimp with chardonnay: if it's a low or no vinegar marinade, better. Also to match with chardonnay, not too spicy... if chili/spicy then better match with the riesling. If a garlic marinade better with chardonnay (also works w/ the riesling).

                              Stuffed mushrooms, again depends on what you're stuffing them with as to how they will pair with your wines. You might just stuff them with the properly-paired cheese. For example, grilled portabellos w/ dab of chevre is awesome for chardonnay, and you get that grill/smoke flavor that also hit's chardonnay very well...

                              Sauternes w/ Roquefort, you can definitely triangulate some fruit or a fruity dessert with that. You can also have some fruit along with the riesling and emmental... as a change-up from the meaty sausages.

                              Cab sauv. and parmesan reggiano... do little plain ground beef / ground steak sliders (rather thin not too fat burgers) simply prepared with fresh cracked black pepper and an ample dusting of parmesan or cheddar... will really go with the cabernet great. Use a fattier ground steak or add in a bit of ground pork, onion and garlic to the burger mix to enhance the flavor.

                              As for order of service, not too concerned with this, ALL of these flavor combos are very impressive. That said, I'd probably do the riesling and chardonnay first, then bring out the pinot and finally cabernet. Sauternes, roquefort and fruit dish definitely for dessert.

                              As for order, BECAUSE this is a "mix and match" tasting of sorts, I would recommend leaving each wine on the table as you bring out the next, so the guests can get a feel for why these particular wine & cheese matches are so good... and by tasting the non-recommended combos (riesling and epoisses or parmesan for example), they will see that "every cheese does not match every wine"... so there's an educational element to the event.

                              1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                Thanks, im taking your advice soup to nuts...errr cheese to wine, lol. I'll let you know how it goes!

                                1. re: rm2slam

                                  never hurts to have some notepads and pencils standing by, some of your guests may want to record their tasting impressions.

                                  1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                    Im a graphic designer, I made custom score cards with the "how to taste" on the back, and a table with the wine and cheese and place for score and notes for each. :-)

                            2. For the order, I start with whites and end in reds, correct? Since the sauturne was sweet, wasn't sure if you served that at the end for dessert - just trying to clarify. thanks!

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: rm2slam

                                General rule for tastings is dry white > dry red > sweet.

                                The Victorians would drink Sauternes throughout a meal, and Germans will drink Riesling of similar sweetness with savory dishes.

                                1. re: rm2slam

                                  Yes, but the correct order of the wines will probably not produce the correct order for the accompanying cheeses.

                                  However, both Roquefort and Sauternes would be correct together as last.

                                  1. re: collioure

                                    I think I'd let them figure out which cheeses go with which wines before I told them... ;)

                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                      I agree, I'd put out everything but the dessert wine and blue cheese and let people mix and match to see what they like with what.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        I disagree with both of you.

                                        If you're going to select the wines to go with the cheeses, you ought to share the recommended matches with the guests.

                                        1. re: collioure

                                          If rm2slam goes to Four Winds or somewhere like that and buys cheeses and wines in pairs recommended by someone who's very familiar with all of them, then sure, serve it as courses.

                                          On the other hand, if she picks cheeses and wines that she's never tasted herself, based on the vague recommendations in this topic, it's a total crapshoot whether some of the pairings will work, and unlikely that they all will.

                                      2. re: ChefJune

                                        I think many of us novices have done the "choose anything" alot. I wanted to create a "suggested" pairing. No, I am not an expert, and I have finalized the pairings after getting additional opinions from gurus like yourselves. I want them to experience cheeses they wouldn't normally buy, with wines they may not otherwise buy or sample. I appreciate the advice so much, I feel you all have helped tremendously. I'm not a show up and buy person, I need a plan for parties, and you all and addtl research have helped me get there. :-)

                                  2. Should I stick to just breads - like a crispy baguette cut into half in slices, or crackers as well?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: rm2slam

                                      Bread has flavor, and some breads very pronounced flavor... that can effect the taste of a wine and cheese match.

                                      For wine and cheese purists, have some PLAIN water crackers on the table. They have little or no flavor but serve to hold the cheese well, more elegant than just using your fingers or a fork.

                                    2. I wanted to thank all of you that contributed your thoughts and ideas to my thread! I had a great time at the party on Friday. Attended by 16 women (it grew larger than anticipated). I decided to serve Shadow Man's suggestions of:

                                      Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and Sauternes matched up with Chevre, Emmental, Havarti, Parmesan Reggiano, Aged cheddar, Epoisses and Roquefort.

                                      I also served Prosciotto wrapped asparagus (I blanched to serve cold); overnight marinated shrimp (with peppers, onions, and a vinegrette of sorts); I served Italian hard sausage/salami. I made sausage stuffed mushrooms using a food network recipe with Marscapone cheese and Marsala wine and knowing that I can't even boil water usually, I was HIGHLY impressed with my cooking prowress and confidence to take this on, lol! My favorite cheese thing was taking the Roqefort and making spoons of appetizers with fresh pear, walnut, bee honey drizzle and Roqefort, with another drizzle on top. People went crazy for it, and you were right- Sauternes is the best! It was a great combo!

                                      I had a Make Your Own Bruschetta bar to start before we tasted that consisted of a fresh Caprise, Olive Tapendade, Sundried Tapendade, and Garlic Feta Pesto.

                                      For the tasting, since there were so many, I passed out the glasses (decorated with mustaches on the glass, and chalk tags on the stems with a metallic sharpie set for each person to jot their initials). There were seated throughout my dining and living areas, I have a large open concept area. Anyway, I opened the first and explained origin, a few facts of each and walked around and served 2 oz. of each to start. Then, while they tasted, I cut the cheese and passed it around also to serve each on a cute cheese platter for each (Party City, 10 for $10, loved it!). This way I didn't have a stampede at my table. People loved bieng served and only 2 had ever even been to a tasting, so it worked out really well to try something different.

                                      I was plenty exhausted by the end of the night, but it was a unique experience. I noticed that the harder the cheese, the less people liked it. The PReggianno barely got touched, while the Epoisses was the hit of the night, along with the spoon Roquefort dessert. The cheddar was a moderate hit.

                                      No one had room for the apple tart and dark bitter chocolate truffles for dessert, but it was all good. I wish I had time to take more pics, but here is a sneak peak. I did everything in a modern chalk theme in terms of signage, labels, etc. Turned out nice.

                                      Thanks again all, Chow is the place to go for help!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: rm2slam

                                        For somebody who can't boil water, you sure put on a fantastic tasting...

                                        Interesting that "the parmesan barely got touched"... I wonder if that's just due to the hardness of the cheese, people didn't want to break off pieces of it?

                                        .... b/c normally PR is a major hit at cheese & wine events, especially with rich reds like cabernet... ahhhh, just recognizing maybe that's why it wasn't so big here... b/c there was only one deep red in the tasting! So you left a major theme for your next tasting, awesome pairings with the likes of cabernet, zinfandel, syrah and tempranillo!

                                        1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                          I sliced into small chunks...but agreed! Fun for next time!