The Food Lover’s Guide to Pairing Wine and Cheese

Find out which cheddars go best with Cabernet, Chianti, and more.

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The Hudson Valley pros behind Piano Piano Wine Bar in Fishkill reveal which cheddars go best with Cabernet, Chianti, and more.

There’s beauty in a cheeseboard. Whether it’s at a wine bar, a dinner party, or your kitchen counter, a platter full of cheddar, gouda, and Swiss rarely fails to delight.

Now add glass of wine to the mix. With the proper red or white, even the humblest cheese plate can transform into elegant pre-dinner fare. Yet, while wine is great, not every vino is worthy of a match with just any dairy companion. To figure out which cheeses go best with our go-to drinks, we asked Anne and Rich Corbo, the duo that run Piano Piano Wine Bar in Fishkill, to share their expert advice with us. The couple conducted a taste test at their bar, then shared the fan-favorite results.

Pairing 1: Prosecco + Pecorino Romano

“The dry bubbles from the Prosecco seemed to soften the saltiness of the Pecorino,” says Anne. “Everyone ate more once we paired it with the Prosecco.”

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Why It Works: The light, bubbly Italian white wine balances the salty and nutty flavors in the Pecorino Romano.

Do It Yourself: Make simple cacio e pepe pasta with shaved pecorino and parmesan cheeses alongside a sparkling flute of Prosecco.

Photo by Anne Corbo

Pairing 2: Dry Reds + Smoked Gouda

“Smoked gouda went really well with our dry, full bodied reds: Chianti, Bordeaux, and one of our Cabernet Sauvignons from California (called Tom Gore).”

Why It Works: Any full bodied, dry reds (read: not fruity or sweet) counter the creamy, smoky notes of gouda.

Do It Yourself: Grilled cheese gets a gourmet twist with smoked gouda and multigrain bread. Try Brotherhood Winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon alongside it for a simple, delectable lunch or dinner.

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Photo by Anne Corbo

Pairing 3: Rioja + Manchego

“No surprise here that Rioja went beautifully with Manchego — both hail from Spain so we couldn’t go wrong,” declares Anne. “Even our nice Spanish white wine, Albarino, tastes delicious with the Manchego.”

Why It Works: The fuller, slightly fruity red Rioja is the perfect counter to the nutty and caramel undercurrents of the Manchego.

Do It Yourself: A tapas-style platter with jamón serrano (or prosciutto in a pinch), Manchego, and olives goes wonderfully with a smooth Spanish red.

Pairing 4: Riesling + Mozzarella

“Last one that folks seemed to really enjoy was Riesling and mozzarella. I think the mozzarella absorbed some of the sweetness from the Riesling so it made for a smoother taste.”

Why It Works: Riesling is a light, fruity, and semi-sweet white wine. It sips nicely alongside mild, creamy mozzarella.

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Do It Yourself: Layer a Caprese salad with mozzarella from Adams Fairacre Farms and fresh basil and tomatoes from a local CSA to partner with a Riesling from Millbrook Vineyards and Winery.

Piano Piano Wine Bar
1064 Main St, Fishkill

Related: Try These 5 Wine and Comfort Food Pairings Tonight

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