Italian wine and cheese
Italian wine and cheese combinations are fairly stock and I can reel off Italian wines and pair them with different cheese all day long. I’m not gonna go that route though. I’ll be kind enough to list the traditional pairings but really, taste is, um, a matter of taste! As a child and right up until today I grate cheese all over my meals. My mother despaired as she laid down lovingly prepared meal after meal and I’d bring out the cheddar (and the vinegar) and top off my roast lamb with cheese. Just yesterday I invited an old friend over for Riesling and Cheese and she laughed at me. Who’s joking? A sweet Riesling and a french Langres is a dream match! That’s right folks, I am a heart attack waiting to happen.
So what of the Italian wines? Let’s be methodical and go all alphabetical! Red wine and white wine can go with cheese, don’t forget that, as some white wine and cheese matches are heaven.
Amarone and cheese
Traditionally pairs up with hard cheese like Parmesan or Grana Padano. However, I like Amarone with a Gouda pairing. Spicy sausage, saucy stews and chocolate puddings are also nice matches.
Barbaresco and cheese
Traditionally pairs up with Taleggio cheese. This is a washed rind Italian cheese with a particularly strong smell. Not so easy to find so why not go with Barbaresco and Pied-de-Vent or Mi-carême? Not as full on as Barolo, you can pair Barberesco with some softer cheeses.
Barbera and cheese
High acidity Barbera can pair with fatty cheese like Brie rather well. How about a Braida Barbera and Pouligny-Saint-Pierre? Gorgonzola is my personal favourite match for Barbera though you can also go with the harder cheese. Barbera is a great wine for cheese.
Barolo and cheese
“Full bodied serious wines like Barolo don’t really need to be dominated by outrageously stinky cheese”. So don’t ruin your minimum €40 Barolo outlay with a bad cheese. They say a Pecorino compliments a Barolo but I’m going to go against the advice and say a strong cheese and a Barolo can be good stuff. I’m a cheddar lord and some seriously strong or old cheddar and Barolo is a dream combo for me, but then I put Ketchup on everything so decide for yourself.
Brunello di Montalcino and cheese
Piquant Cheeses are the way to go here apparently. I have to agree, last weekend I was drinking a beautiful Altesino Brunello and matched it up with Pave de Moyaux . Young Brunello can be tannic city so don’t go the Parmagiano route.
Cannonau and cheese
Cannonau is a puzzler, it’s fruity and it can be big, but it’s also acidic and I struggle pairing it up, probably because I don’t enjoy Cannonau particularly. The textbook says sheep cheese.
Chianti and cheese
The two Italian P Cheeses – Pecorino and Parmigiano Reggiano. I like full fat cheese with Chianti though especially Taleggio.
Dolcetto and cheese
Provolone. In a word!
Falanghina and cheese
Robiolina cheese and a Feudi Falanghina and you are kicking back on the picnic blanket and enjoying summer. However, what about those pepper added soft cheeses and a Falaghina?
Franciacorta and cheese
Peppery Cheese, Piccante Cheese or smoked cheese do wonders for these wines. Franciacorta wines are perfectly suited to creamy, semi soft cheese. You could even go herby Philadelphia if you are slumming it.
Greco di Tufo and cheese
I’d go Camembert or Taleggio on a full bodied GdT. This can even go with the lighter harder cheeses, what about Cheshire cheese? Try it.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and cheese
Strong cheese like Pecorino are the order of the day once more. With the Zaccagnini I love to pair it up with Ricotto and especially Wensleydale. Top tip, go Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Wensleydale, it tastes like Christmas, really, literally, like Christmas cake!
Nero d’Avola and cheese
Strong wines can be troublesome, related to Syrah traditionally we would go cheddar, red leicester and Gruyère. I’d stick to the recommendations here.
Pinot Bianco and cheese
Cream cheese, things like mozzarella are your best bets here. Sounds bland though right? Monteray Jack might kick it up a notch?
Pinot Grigio and cheese
The safe route: Urgelia. However, with a full PG I like to go the hard cheese route so bring out the GP with the PG (Grana Padano).
Primitivo and cheese
The sibling of Zinfandel will pair up nicely with all kinds of wacky foods and cheeses. Zinfandel and Primitivo are great food and cheese wines. Traditional route: Chedder, Emmental, Gouda, Pecorino, Jarlsberg.. actually the list goes on and on. If you don’t know what to pair with a cheese, bring out the Primitivo and you’ve got a good chance of being dead on!
Prosecco and cheese
This is another great cheese wine, can go from Gorgonzola to Grana Padano with it. Good Prosecco and a mix of cheese is an EVENT! Bring this into your summer picnics.
Sagrantino and cheese
Super strong and tannic Sagrantino doesn’t need a stinky friend. Go for very hard cheeses.
Soave and cheese
Another great wine for a range of cheese. I really enjoy a stilton and soave, but it is a versatile wine so can also go with the blander milkier cheeses.
Taurasi and cheese
Ripe cheese once more. Taurasi is a very strong wine so pairs off with hard cheese, another case for Parmigian. Personal favourite pairing is Beaufort.
Tocai Friulano and cheese
I don’t really rate this wine with cheese. If you really are keen to find a friend for Tocai Friulano then why not go out there with something a bit interesting and smelly, definitely soft. Go gorgonzola!
Trebbiano and cheese
A Trebbiano wine and goats cheese is my secret recommendation. The experts go strong semi soft cheeses and smoked cheeses.
Valpolicella and cheese
Cimbro is a traditional recommendation. A cows milk cheese. Another local recommendation I can give you though is Monte Veronese cheese! This is a real match.com, match made in heaven, going to make it to their golden wedding pairing.
Vernaccia and cheese
Another good white for cheese. Spicy/Aromatic, semi hard and hard cheeses are all going down a storm with Vernaccia. I go Roquefort here and I love it for days!
So from stinky cheese to stinky wine, last night I was in the mood to smell something funky so opted for a regional Cabernet Franc. I got what I wished for!
Santa Margherita Lison Pramaggiore Cabernet Franc 2006 – PASS - €7
Light-mid bodied, dark ruby red, very typical Cab Franc character, some red berry fruit but very vegetal, little vanilla, plum too, no real tannins to speak of on the mouth-feel, fairly acidic and light, little red fruit on the mid-palate and a hot finish for just a 12.5% wine, not great balance but one of the better under €7 cabernet francs I’ve had from the Veneto. Not dazzling, but drinkable. 84 Points
Where can I buy this wine
Europeans - Di Leva – €6.50
Americans - You can’t – and you shouldn’t anyway
Brits - Same goes for you
Leave a comment!
Yes, I’ve missed some wines out of my cheese list, but that gives you a reason to leave a comment! What’s missing here please and what do you feel is a good match for these wines? Am I out of my tiny mind? Tell me so then! I will dance for comments.