Wine and cheese go together like — well, it doesn’t matter. We’re not telling you something you didn’t already know.
Yet, before you break out the bottle of Pinot and that half-eaten orange cheddar block hiding in the back of the fridge, know that some experts say there is an art to marrying the two effectively.
It’s a fun, “even-when-it’s-wrong-it-feels-so-right”, “I’ll-be-the-taste-tester-of-that” type of challenge, sure. In your search, you’ll get to explore surprising and fascinating flavor combinations and profiles. But how do you know where to start?
The best first step of pairing wine and cheese is to determine where each come from, according to Shawn Paul, the Wine Operations Director at Foxcroft Wine Co.
“In the case of European cheeses, which often have a long history of being made in one particular region from very specific ingredients, the beverages that are also made in that region are more often than not the very best accompaniments to the cheese itself,” Paul said. He also said to consider the intensity and degree of flavor of the wine and the food — they should match.
Proper pairings of wine and cheese can bring out specific flavors, said Chris Sottile, founder of The Loyalist Market. “Pull out floral notes of a cheese by pairing with a floral, fruit-forward wine,” he said. “Bring balance by combining something sweet with something spicy. Create a third flavor by getting something entirely new by mending the wine and cheese together — likes with likes, opposites attract and what grows together goes together.”
Ultimately, it’s all about experimenting, Sottile said. “Your palette is the best palette in the world, because it’s yours. Don’t rely on what the experts tell you is good. At the end of the day, it’s all about you and what you enjoy.”
Don’t want to hit up Trader Joe’s on the way home, pondering the proper combination of wine and cheese for a Tuesday night?* There are several area restaurants happy to make the decisions for you. Here are some of our favorite wine and cheese plates:
(1) The Asbury
235 N Tryon St.
Item: Cheese Board
What’s in it: Cheese, jams and house-made crackers
Bonus: The Asbury offers wine flights for $18, so you can explore even more flavor combinations with your cheese board.
(2) Bulla Gastrobar
4310 Sharon Road
What’s in it: Tetilla, Murcia al Vino, Manchego
Bonus: Try out the Chef’s Board ($18) if you want some meat with your cheese. It includes Tetilla, Manchego, Jamón Serrano, Chorizo de Cantimpalo and olives. Their beverage menu is full of possibilities including Spanish influenced cocktails, sangriaand Spanish and American wines.
(3) The Cellar at Duckworth’s
330 N Tryon St.
Item: Cheese Board
Price: Any 3: $15, Any 4: $19, Any 5: $22
What’s in it: Your choice of La Maison du Gruyère: cave-aged gruyere, Looking Glass Creamery: chocolate lab, Jasper Hill: landaff, Beemster: 26 month old gouda, Jasper Hill Creamery: bayley hazen blue and Milton Creamery: prairie breeze aged cheddar
Bonus: You can also mix in your choice of meats. Your options are Wild Boar, Heritage Farms Hot Sopressata, Speck (Smoked Prosciutto), Serrano Ham Bresaola (Cured Beef)). Pick from their cocktail list, beer or wide ranging wine list. Don’t forget to check out the beer cellar.
412 W. 5th St.
Item: White Wine Cheese Board or Red Wine Cheese Board
What’s in it: hand-selected cheeses with fresh fruit, toasted crostini and seasonal garnishes
Bonus: Corkscrew also have an Excalibur English White Cheddar Plate for $8. They offer hundreds of bottles of wines with no corkage fee and over 30 wines by the glass.
(5) Craft Tasting Room
1320 S Church St. Suite #100
Item: Cheese board
What’s in it: Selection of North Carolina cheeses, fruit and locally baked bread.
Bonus: Boards are $6 on Wednesdays. Keep it casual and grab a bottle (or a can) of wine or some beer to enjoy with your cheese.
(6) Dilworth Tasting Room
300 East Tremont St.
Item: Combination Cheese & Charcuterie
Price: Small: $20, Medium: $28, Large: $40, Grande: $50
What’s in it: Your choice of cheeses served with fresh baguette, walnuts, almonds, pecans, grapes, tomatoes and fig jam.
Bonus: Make your personal assortment of soft and spreadable, semi soft and pliable and firm and hard cheeses. Visit on Thursdays if you are into rosé. Select rose is half off every Thursday. If the weather allows, take a seat on the patio so you can take in the tranquil scene of the koi pond and greenery throughout the patio.
(7) Dot Dot Dot
4237 Park Road B
Item: Cheese Board
What’s in it: Chef’s selection of three artisan cheeses served with house pickles, marinated olives, preserves and grilled bread.
Bonus: Enjoy your cheese board with a glass of wine or sip on a cocktail from their inspired cocktail menu and seasonal specials.
(8) Foxcroft Wine Co.
1235 East Blvd. and 7824 Fairview Road
Item: Cheese and Charcuterie Plate
Price: $15/4oz, $25/6oz
What’s in it: Artisanal cheese and cured meats and house-made lavash.
Bonus: Do yourself a favor and grab the Truffle Fries ($8) and the Brussel Sprouts with butternut squash, cashew, onion and chili soy glaze ($8). They have countless wines to pair with your cheese plate and other bites.
300 S. Tryon St.
Item: Fromages Board
What’s in it: Assortment of French cheeses
Bonus: They have an extensive wine list to choose from that is sure to something for anyone’s personal preferences. Sample their charcuterie board with grain mustard for $16.
VIA CHARLOTTE FIVE