Wine and cheese, mixed with good conversation and pleasant surroundings - is there anything nicer? But it's not just about pouring out the plonk and getting sloshed. After all, wine has been as cultural as it is scrumptious for hundreds of years - and so has cheese!
Why do we eat cheese with wine?
Sometimes it's good to learn about the roots behind a tradition, including why we pair cheese and wine together. Much of that has to do with the history of the regions where wine is made in Italy or France - in those communities, cheese would often be a common staple food produced by local farms in the past. Often, it still is! Because it's always close to hand, it's only natural it'd find its way to the same dinner tables where wine's being served.
Does this mean it's all a happy accident that we eat cheese and drink wine together to this day? Not quite! There's actual science behind all this too - the fact that wine and cheese flavours are so drastically opposite to one another, as well as opposite in texture in the mouth, means they harmonise beautifully when consumed at the same time. One really does heighten the sensations to be savoured in the other.
So, what are you waiting for? On 25th July it's National Wine and Cheese Day, an occasion we're sure we're not alone in feeling excited for! Celebrating the finest pairings of wine and cheese around - from golden oldies to new, perhaps daring combinations - this is a fantastic way of broadening your palate, and tucking into some goodies in the process.
Naturally, it's an excellent excuse for a get-together too - one we've every confidence that everyone shall enjoy responsibly! National Wine and Cheese Day offers a great reason to add some flair and sophistication to a gathering, in a way that's actually surprisingly easy to set up - especially if you have some crisp new wine glasses you're dying to show off!
Raise a toast to a summertime soirée
While there's something altogether fancy about wine and cheese, and it's something that foodies rave about, you don't need to worry if it seems a little daunting knowing which pairings go with which. That's what this guide is for!
Likewise, you don't have to bend over backwards making everything all high-class and elegant either, if you don't want to. Whether you're new to this or a dab hand at all things cheese and wine, the focus is on the good times with your nearest and dearest, as well as the astounding flavours you'll all enjoy.
Set up your cheese board, get your friends and loved ones over, and cross your fingers for some sunshine come 25th July (don't fail us now, British summer!) - let's make National Wine and Cheese Day a bigger hit than the Cooper's Hill Cheese Roll!
Our favourite wine and cheese pairings
Setting up the flavours of wine and cheese to play off one another beautifully is not as complicated as you might think! Better yet, it doesn't have to involve lots of obscure wines and cheeses that nobody's ever heard of!
Try a few of our favourites out for size this National Wine and Cheese Day - or any other time you fancy...
Cheddar and chardonnay
Talk about deceptively easy! Yes, the humble cheddar cheese offers some surprisingly versatile flavours even by itself - you can have mild, strong or mature cheddar, for instance, and each of those has a taste that's different to the last.
Yet being one of the most commonly enjoyed kinds of cheese doesn't make it any less suitable for a summer's evening of wine and nibbles. While plenty of rich reds pair well with the creamy, satisfying flavour of cheddar - the heavier flavour profile of red wine playing off the lighter taste of this cheese - plenty of foodies rate the lesser-known cheddar and chardonnay combo.
Chardonnay is a white wine, so it's got the classic lightness compared to the density of red wine in its favour. That's part of what makes chardonnay so complementary with the flavour of cheddar cheeses, from mild to extra mature.
As a dry white wine with a fruity flavour profile, chardonnay and cheddar have plenty in common - both this cheese and this wine are beloved by millions, and both are easy to come by, but perhaps mostly importantly, both are very versatile in how you put them to use.
Enticed your appetite yet? Let's take it up a notch...
Goat cheese and sauvignon blanc
One thing about goat's cheese that just isn't mentioned enough is how utterly scrummy it is - and if you pair it with the right wine, you're onto a winner!
Classically, goat cheese is paired with sauvignon blanc wine, and that's in part due to its creamy texture and flavour - goat cheese is unique in a way traditional cheeses from cow's milk simply can't match.
That solid, lingering taste and satisfying softness pairs fantastically well with the green grapes that make up a sauvignon blanc, whose tartness and acidity often enhance the tang of goat's cheese wonderfully. Expect enriched flavours all round!
What's more, with so many varieties of sauvignon blanc to be found, all with different flavour profiles, it might be fun to get a few different bottles in and see how they combine with goat's cheese too. Hey, it's not like your guests are going to turn down having more wine around!
How's it all going down so far? Get your glass and cheese knife ready - we're not done yet...
Blue stilton and port
When you're ready for powerhouse flavours that dance along the tongue, this cheese and wine combination is a classic for all the right reasons.
Blue stilton is one of those timeless types of cheese that almost anyone can recognise at a glance. Its distinctive looks are matched by an appealing texture and, of course, a strong and often quite complex flavour that supercharges the senses, lingering on gnaw after nibble.
How do you enhance such a savoury, salty, scented flavour? With the dense sweetness of a glass of port, of course!
Rich and sweet, port wine is for National Wine and Cheese Day - not just for Christmas! This deliciously dark Portuguese classic pairs wonderfully with the robust, strong flavours of blue stilton.
Creating quite the powerful cocktail of flavours on your palate, this is a great combination to break out once the conversation is flowing and your guests have dipped into our lighter options above to help them get started.
Still want more? We certainly do! Pour a fresh glass and tantalise your tastebuds with another pairing that will be sure to please.
Camembert and champagne
Soft cheeses don't come much more scrumptious or delightful in texture than camembert cheese. Whether you like it baked to bring out the strength of its flavour, or prefer it sumptuously soft, even a little gooey, it's a cheese that pairs with plenty of wines.
That's because camembert boasts such a distinctive texture, which its flavour makes all the more appealing. That means many cheese and wine lovers like to pair it with chardonnay - if you have any left over after that cheddar, feel free!
However, we're a tad fonder of going big with our wine and cheese celebrations - by cracking open a bottle of champers!
Quite what kind of champagne you prefer is down to your personal preferences, especially since it's the bubbles that we're really after. Those tantalising tongue-tinglers create a fantastic interplay with the unique texture of camembert, and it makes the flavours of each vibrant and striking in the mouth.
Baked camembert often works wonderfully with champagne too, enhancing both the flavour and texture of the cheese in contrast to the light, airy bubbles of the champagne. What's more, this combination of champagne and camembert helps to make your wine and cheese event feel celebratory, making this a great option if you're holding the occasion to mark a birthday or special gathering.
Now... who's ready to finish off with a little culture?
Spanish manchego and rioja
Ready to add some Spanish flair to your cheese and wine evening? Fuse the light, airy, creamy flavours of manchego cheese with one of Spain's most famous wines, the passionate rioja.
While everyone's heard of rioja, not everyone's heard of manchego cheese, so let's get up to speed! Manchego cheese is actually a kind of sheep's cheese, produced in the La Mancha region of Spain, and well-known for its distinctive, slightly zingy flavour.
This, in part, gives it a creamy, almost buttery quality that's concealed within a solid rind. It cuts easily, but is seen by foodies as a 'semi-soft' cheese, crumbling nicely in the mouth.
You can find it in most supermarkets that have a decently broad cheese selection, but if your options fail you, stick with sheep's cheese for a simpler solution that'll still wow your guests.
Named for the region of Spain in which it's produced, red rioja wines are made of a blend of different grapes - the most prominent of these being the Tempranillo. These wines tend to be full-bodied, contrasting in a lovely way with the zing and lightness of manchego cheese.
The taste of one brings out the strengths of the other in fantastic harmony, which is a big reason why manchego cheese and rioja wine is such a solid pairing for your big cheese and wine event. Plus, you now have lots of little cultural facts to weave into the conversation too, if you fancy showing off a bit!
How's that for a corker of combos?
From strong and fragrant to mild and subtle, you're well on your way to flaunting your newfound expertise for National Wine and Cheese Day - or any other occasion you need to add some style and flavour to. Whether you use our favourite pairing choices of cheese and wine as your go-to guide for your next event, or simply take a few cues and add your own spin on things, this is one get-together that's sure to satisfy foodies, families and friends alike.
Are you hoping for a gouda National Wine and Cheese Day, or do you just not give edam? Take heart - there's plenty of fantastic wine and good times ahead, and every reason to get involved now there's advice aplenty under your belt. Cheers!