Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the most ordered and beloved red wine in America. It is a great complement to a savory dinner, and as well as with a well-appointed cheese plate. Pairing red wine with cheese has been a topic of heated debate since the University of California released a study at Davis, which states that many types of cheese diminish the fruit, tannin, and acidity in red wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. According to Chef Todd Knoll, several types of hard and semi-hard cheeses, and surprisingly a few triple creams can pair with both old and young vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you love Cabernet Sauvignon but haven’t tried pairing it with cheese yet, you’re in the right place. Today, we are giving you the best cheeses you can pair with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Types and Characteristics of Cheeses to Pair with Cabernet Sauvignon
When buying cheese or some cheeses to pair with Cabernet Sauvignon, here are some of the types and characteristics that you should look for:
Slightly Firm and Soft-Ripened Cheeses with Earthy Notes
If you are looking for a cheese to pair with a lighter-style and young cabernet, then you can opt for earthy and slightly firm versions of cheeses. It’s because creamy cheeses will emphasize tannins in a more powerful Cabernet, making the wine downright chewy. A young Cabernet has dried herb aromas, which is complemented by soft-ripened cheeses with an earthy or herbaceous component from the rind.It can also soften its tannins, making its berry flavors pop.
Semi-Hard and Aged Cow’s Milk Cheeses with Extended Age
A slight crunch and rich nutty flavors in the cheese can be achieved through the aging process. The mild, nutty textureand smooth taste of semi-hard and aged cow’s milk cheeses can highlight the berry notes in both young and older Cabernet Sauvignons. The wine’s tannins, on the other hand, bind to the protein and fat of the cheese, cleansing the palate.
Semi-Hard Sheep’s Milk Cheeses with Some Age
This type of cheese has a firmer texture and more complex and subtle nutty flavors. It can complement the structure and finish of a Cabernet than overpowering it. Aside from that, sheep’s milk cheeses also have a subtle gamey note that blends well with Cabernet.
What to Avoid Pairing with Cabernet Sauvignon
Here are some of the types of cheeses that you should not try pairing with Cabernet Sauvignon:
Creamy and Soft-Ripened Cheeses
Cheeses like Bries, Camembert, and Brillat-Savarin can bring out metallic or bitter notes in Cabernet and mute its flavors. If you want the fruit in your Cabernet to shine, you need to experiment with creamy cheeses carefully.
Blue cheeses can make Cabernet Sauvignon taste metallic and bitter. If you are serving a Blue cheese, it’s better to go for Champagne and lean, crisp white whites like Sancerre.
Young and Soft Goat Cheeses
These cheeses are tangy with a high acidity level. Due to that, they can over-accentuate the alcohol in a Cabernet Sauvignon. The only exception is those that have dried herbs or an herb crust.
Hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggianoare also not good choices to pair with a Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s becausethe salt and sweetness from these cheese’s pineapple and caramel flavors can strip the fruit from the wine. Also, if the wine’s tannins are too pronounced, the salt in the cheese will exaggerate those tannins.
Best Cheeses to Pair with Cabernet Sauvignon
Here are some of the best cheeses that you can pair with Cabernet Sauvignon:
- Goat Gouda: Goat Gouda or goat’s milk cheese has a soft and creamy texture that can help expand the mid-palate or body of a Cabernet Sauvignon. Also, an aged gouda is better than a non-aged option. The full, rich body of the tannins in the Cabernet complement the nutty flavors for Gouda perfectly.
- Cheddar: If Gouda cheese is too worldly or hard for your palate, then you can opt for cheddar. When pairing cheddar with Cabernet Sauvignon, the sharper, the better.
- Cypress Grove Midnight Moon:This is a goat’s milk cheese that has a creamy and rich flavor, coming from extended aging. This complemented the fruit flavors in all three vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon. It broadens the fruit flavor and creaminess on the palate and brings an attractive saltiness on the finish. It can soften the tannins and make the red fruits brighter.
- Bellwether Farms San Andreas: This one is a sheep’s milk cheese. It has a Pecorino-like subtle flavor and can also be paired well with all three vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon. It can soften the tannins of the wine and bring an appealing baked cracker flavor to the finish. It also has a tartness that balances the acidity of the wine, creating a seamless pairing.
- Cow’s Milk Cheese: Cow’s milk cheese like Clothbound Cheddar, Reserve Comte, Loma Alta, and Locarno is also perfect to pair with Cabernet Sauvignon. These cheeses usually have earthy, herbaceous, nutty, and fruity notes that can complement cabernets well. But most of the time, they are best to pair with younger cabernets.
These are some of the best cheese to pair with Cabernet Sauvignon. To experience the pairings properly, it is suggested to ensure that everything is served at the proper temperature. Also, start by placing the cheese in your mouth and experiencing the flavors before adding wine. All the combination of flavors to mix in your mouth before swallowing for the full effect. And remember, aside from the cheeses we mentioned here, the best cheese that you can enjoy with a Cabernet Sauvignon is, of course, the one you like the most.