How to Pair Wine and Cheese

Italian Food and Wine Pairing / How to Pair Wine and Cheese

Is there anything better than pairing wine and cheese? A truly iconic duo, they complement each other marvellously and are the ultimate indulgence after a long day. Dessert wines and big bold reds are often the go-to wine for cheese, but you can make the pairing even better by carefully choosing the wine for each cheese you’re planning to serve.

The UK is a country of cheese lovers, with statistics showing that more than half of us eat it every day. We’ve looked at Britain’s most popular cheeses to offer some suggestions on the best Italian wines to pair with them.

Wine for Cheddar

Cheddar cheese board with fruits and glass of red wine by Independent Wine

Good cheddar is tangy, umami and salty – making it the perfect partner for most red wines. In fact, it would be harder to find a red wine that doesn’t go well with cheddar than one that does! The saltiness of the cheese will help to soften the tannins in even the most full-bodied bottles. Sangiovese, Primitivo and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo are some of the best wines to team with cheddar.

Wine for aged cheddar

If you’ve got a really special vintage cheddar to eat, it deserves a truly great wine – such as our limited edition Siddùra Fòla Riserva. This wine made from pure Cannonau is very full-bodied, with flavours of ripe black plum, and aromatic herbs that will work well with the salty and creamy notes of your cheese.

Bottle of red wine Siddura Fola Cannonau Riverva 2017

Wine for everyday cheddar

For basic snacking, reach for a great value wine like Feudi di Guagnano “Le Camarde” – a delicious blend of Negroamaro and Primitivo grapes from Guagnano in the heart of Puglia. This full-bodied wine has plenty of velvety tannins that are further smoothed by the saltiness of the cheese. Its flavours of juicy prunes, Amsterdam pipe tobacco and dried rosemary can make even the most staple supermarket cheese feel special.

Feudi di Guagnano, Le Camarde, Negroamaro and Primitivo Salento IGT 2016

Wine for Mozzarella

Mozzarella, and its fancier cousin burrata, have a soft flavour that can easily be overpowered by big wines. That’s why it’s best to stick to a lighter option – white wines are a fantastic choice here. Go for a cool climate white such as Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio Riserva, Giatl single vineyard, Alto Adige DOC.

This barrel-fermented wine has delicate flavours of passion fruit, guava, pear and elderflower that gently work with the subtleties of the mozzarella. The medium level of acidity helps to cut through the creaminess, without completely destroying it. Pour a glass on a warm evening and sip alongside a simple burrata and heritage tomato salad. It’s the perfect way to to enjoy wine and cheese on a summer evening.

Bottle of white wine Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio Riserva Giatl 2017

Wine for Stilton

Stilton cheese board with strawberries and glass of white wine by Independent Wine

When it comes to wine and cheese, Port is the classic partner for Stilton. But why not try something a little different – such as a Moscato d’Asti? Light-bodied, fizzy and delicately sweet, it’s the perfect counterpoint to the salty, crumbly cheese. Our Francone’s “Antichi Poderi dei Gallina” Moscato d’Asti DOCG is an ideal option. The acidic freshness of the wine helps to cleanse your palate, while its subtle aromas of white blossom and guava will provide a playful counterpoint to the strength of the Stilton.

Bottle of Italian sparkling wine Francone Antichi Poderi Dei Gallina Moscato d'Asti DOCG 2020

An Italian alternative to Port and Stilton

If you prefer to stick to the classic wine and cheese combination of blue cheese and dessert wine, swap your Port for a bottle of Kurtatsch Ushas, Moscato Rosé, Mitterberg IGT (Alto Adige). This limited edition passito rosé has similar ripe red fruit flavours like pomegranate and strawberry jam, enhanced with a touch of mulled wine spice and violet flowers. Its lush, sweet flavour contrasts extremely well with the umami saltiness of the Stilton to create an exciting sensation.

Kurtatsch Ushas 2017 Dessert Muscat Rose - half-bottle

Wine for Brie and Camembert

Brie and Camembert are both soft and gooey cow’s milk cheeses, and have a similar flavour profile. Depending on the quality of the cheese, you can expect them to taste earthy, fruity, nutty, and grassy with a hint of mushroom. Camembert is often the stronger of the two, although it will depend on the quality of the cheese. For example, a basic supermarket Camembert won’t have as much flavour as a luxury Brie de Meaux.

Cheese board with Brie and Camembert cheeses

Red wine for Brie and Camembert

Light and fruity red wines, like Pinot Noir, make the best partner for these soft cheeses. Try them with Kurtatsch “Glen” single vineyard Pinot Noir Riserva, Alto Adige DOC, a high-altitude wine from Alto Adige – the top Italian region for Pinot Noir. Its crisp red flavours of hibiscus, cranberry and dried strawberry cut straight through the buttery and creamy texture of the cheese.

Bottle of Italian red wine Glen Pinot Noir Riserva 2017 Alto Adige DOC

White wine for Brie and Camembert

Brie and Champagne are a classic pairing, so go Italian by reaching for a bottle of Franciacorta. Made in a similar method to Champagne, and using some of the same grapes, this elegant fizz is an ideal partner for a platter of brie and grapes. Try Lo Sparviere Brut Cuvée n.7 NV Franciacorta DOCG. Its flavours of honey, toasted bread and almonds could easily rival Champagne, pairing perfectly with the flavours of Camembert and Brie.

Bottle of Italian sparkling wine Lo Sparviere Brut Cuvée no.7 Franciacorta DOCG NV

Wine for goats cheese and Feta

Goats cheese and feta both have strong and tangy flavours that are quite unlike anything else. Young and white, they have a soft and crumbly texture that quickly coats the tongue. It’s best to stick to zippy white wines with plenty of acidity to help cleanse the palate.

One of the best wines to team with goats cheese or Feta is Fratelli Pardi, Trebbiano Spoletino, Spoleto DOC from Umbria. This crisp and refreshing wine has lots of minerality, and sings with citric flavours of lemongrass, lime and sweet grapefruit. These complement and intertwine with the somewhat bitter flavours of the cheese to leave a pleasant taste in the mouth. Consider reaching for it the next time you have a Greek salad or goat cheese soufflé.

Bottle of Italian white wine from Umbria - Fratelli Pardi Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino DOC 2020

Wine for Parmesan… and other Italian hard cheeses

While many Brits simply grate hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and Grana Padano onto pasta, in Italy its customary to eat it as it is. A little like how we eat cheddar. If you’ve never added a wedge to your cheeseboard, we recommend trying it. You’ll discover it’s actually got a nuanced nutty and fruity flavour, with plenty of umami saltiness. An alternative, but delicious, option for a wine and cheese evening.

Parmigiano cheese board with fruits and glass of red wine by Independent Wine

White wines for Parmesan

Italian hard cheese is super versatile, and goes well with fizz such as Prosecco as well as crisp whites like Pinot Grigio. It’s fun to experiment, and we especially like it with Kurtatsch Gewürztraminer, Alto Adige DOC. The off-dry sweetness is a lovely contrast to the strong saltiness of the cheese. The wine’s tropical flavours like lychee, passion fruit and guava also bring out the natural fruitiness of the cheese.

Bottle of white wine Kurtatsch Gewurztraminer 2019 Alto Adige DOC

Red wines for Parmesan

When you’re pairing red wine with Italian hard cheese, it’s best to stick to ones with fruity – rather than Earthy – flavours. This will help to bring out the best in the cheese. Sangiovese – not the Chianti version but the more concentrated Chianti Classico – is great for this. So Castello di Radda, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG is an ideal choice. This richly flavoured wine combines tastes of dried red cherry, Tuscan aromatic herbs, vanilla and black pepper with sweet pipe tobacco and leather. An added benefit is that the saltiness of the cheese help to soften the austere tannins.

Bottle of Italian red wine Castello di Radda Riserva 2014 Chianti Classico DOCG

Wine for Halloumi

Cypriot cheese Halloumi has become extremely popular in the UK over the past few years, and often takes a central role in vegetarian dishes. It has a mild salty flavour and pleasantly squeaky texture. It’s best served hot, and makes a great alternative to meat during summer barbecues.

It works especially well with oak-aged orange wine Demarie “Sabbia” produced from the fragrant Arneis grapes in Piemonte. The grape juice remains in contact with skins and seeds during fermentation, and ages in French oak barriques. This medium-bodied wine is bold enough to stand up to the cheese’s dense structure, boasting flavours of almonds, apricots and green tea.

Demarie Sabbia Orange wine - Oak Aged Arneis 2019

If you prefer red, opt for a Primitivo (Italian Zinfandel). Feudi di Guagnano “Diecianni” Primitivo from Salento IGP plays off the saltiness of the cheese with its plush flavours of cinnamon, vanilla and fresh blackberries.

Bottle of Italian red wine Feudi di Guagnano Diecianni Primitivo Salento IGT 2018

Buy your favourite wine for cheese with next day delivery

Whether you’re putting together the ultimate board for a dinner party, or are simply indulging in some wine and cheese as an evening snack, there’s an Italian wine out there to suit every occasion. With Independent Wine you can enjoy free next day delivery across the mainland UK, so even your most spontaneous cheese feasts will be catered for.

P.S. Read our guides on Italian Food and Wine Pairing