Tips from a Sommelier for Wine & Cheese Pairings!
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Crystal, the sommelier at Austin’s Le Politique, and she shared with me all her tips for pairing wines with cheeses. I honestly have to say that it’s opportunities like these that make me love my job so much! I mean I literally get to sit down with some of the most knowledgeable people in town and learn all about good food and drink from them. These are those pinch me moments when I realize that I am right where I am supposed to be!
Read on for Crystal’s one big tip for pairing wine with cheese and about the port-style wine I actually want to drink!
As you know, if you’ve been reading this blog for while, I’ve got a thing for Texas wines. The Texas wine scene is still in its adolescence, but they are beginning to turn out some real gems. Le Politique is a French influenced restaurant here in Austin and I really enjoyed getting to dive deeper into French wine.
In the italicized words, you’ll find direct quotes from Crystal. The other words are from my notes and fun tidbits I learned during our afternoon together trying cheese and wine! Like I said, total dream job!
Crystal said if she had to narrow it down to one thing, her tip for pairing wine with cheese is:
Pairing cheese and wines comes down to, in it’s most simple form, looking for a wine that has good acidity!
Make a note of that friends!
Cremant d’Alsace is a wine region close to Champagne and made in the same style as Champagnes but because they cannot be called Champagne, they are often more reasonably priced! The Alsace region of France also has more sunshine than Champagne, so it produces more fruit.
Alexandre Monmousseau Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) really great with all of the cheeses; bright acid and medium bodied, a touch of lemon and minerality on the nose and palate.
Vouvray comes from the Loire Valley and is a brighter wine with high acid and a medium body. This wine stands up to Chardonnay, although I personally found it be much more palatable and interesting than oaky Chardonnays. It’s an easy drinking wine with honey and peach + pear notes.
Charles Jouget, Chinon (Cabernet Franc) this wine is higher in tannin, so go for an aged cheese (Le Cyprien), but it’s still good with all cheeses as the body won’t overwhelm a mild cheese.
Chinons have savory tanins that interact with proteins, making them a great pairing for cheeses. It has hints of green bell pepper and pairs well with meats. This is a very consistent wine and drinks young. It’s a great wine for Cabernet lovers and has a friendlier price point than Bordeauxs.
Carmes de Rieussec, Sauternes (Semillon) any cheese, any time. Sauternes is sweet but still has good acid, enough to dance with the fat content of cheese and still leave the palate cleansed and watering for the next bite. Also a little funk from the botrytis compliments the tang you want from a good cheese.
This wine really blew my mind and I am still thinking about it! It’s considered a dessert wine and is sweet. It is similar in style to a port but I found it to be easier to drink than a port and it was velvety smooth. I have never been this excited about a dessert wine!
What wine questions do you have? Drop me a note in the comments!