Le Cordon Bleu Logo

Wine and Cheese,
A Harmonious Match

wine & cheese article

The pairing of wine and cheese may seem relatively new in Malaysia, but this culinary art has been in existence for centuries.

The concept of matching these two products together probably originated from a practical standpoint, as wine and cheeses that came from the same region were often served together; sometimes, they even originated from the same village or farm.     

This eventually also led to other dishes being paired with drinks, and in Europe, the practice of pairing certain foods with certain wines have been passed down the generations according to deep rooted traditions which are followed even to this day.

The common rule of having ‘white wine with fish and red wine with meat’ is based on the concept of matching heavy or strong flavoured foods with a similarly full-bodied wine. Generally, this still rings true today, although wine and food pairings have changed considerably through the years, developing into a highly nuanced art.

Likewise, strong flavoured cheeses are presumed to usually go with full-bodied wines. In fact, wine historians are of the opinion that in the early wine-making days of France, recommendations made by wine merchants for complementary foods were based on this old adage. 

Culinary science

The matching of a dairy product with wine might seem vague and whimsical, relying on the ever-changing human taste palate, but there is actually a science behind this.

According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, foods from opposite ends of the taste spectrum tend to elicit a pleasant mouthfeel, leading food connoisseurs to conclude that they go well together. Along with many other wine and food combinations, this also rings true for wine and cheese pairings.

Generally, our mouths perceive consuming astringent foods alternately with creamier foods as pleasing to the palate, and this discovery was how the match was developed centuries ago, even though early epicureans might not have fully understood why at that time.  

In fact, French researchers found that eating cheese with wine not only tasted pleasant, but can also enhanced the experience of drinking wine as different taste sensations were produced while sipping on wine.   

wine and cheese pairing

Personal choice

There are unwritten rules on how the pairing of cheese and wine should be done, likewise for food combinations, and in the past, these were closely adhered to. To do otherwise would garner you stares and disdain, and probably no more future invitations to dinner!

These days, however, thanks to global travel and the easy availability of different foods from different parts of the world, we now have access to many different types of cheeses and wines, giving rise to new combinations. Pairings are no longer limited to products from the same region as modern day culinaire is all about food appreciation and personal preferences, recognising that taste is quite subjective.

Pairing Principles

Just as how red wine does not always have to be paired with red meat anymore, popular cheese and wine combinations are not for everyone as well. That being said, some basic pairing principles do help to bring out delicious matches with due consideration being given to texture, tannin, fat and acidity.

Generally, the intensity of the cheese should complement the wine, for instance, brie would go well with a Savignon Blanc and an aged gouda with a full-bodied Rioja. Or, one can be adventurous and seek to contrast the flavours, for example, pitting Prosecco with a hard cheese, or a Merlot with soft cheese.

Enjoying a bubbly like Champagne together with salty cheeses is like a melodious symphony as the saltiness of the cheese further brings out the natural sweetness of the wine. Contrasting different textures by having the acidity of a sparkling wine cut through the creaminess of the cheese, gives you the best of both worlds.

One of the most common general guidelines is to match wines with cheeses from the same region. The French Brie region, for instance, known for its Brie cheese production, also offers tannic wine varietals, such as Beaujolais, giving rise to this popular wine and cheese pairings. Italian Asiago cheese is often placed alongside Italian Chianti or Brunello, both from the same region.

wine and cheese

French Passion

There are more than 1,000 different cheese varietals in France, and the French are one of the biggest consumers of cheese in the world. Apart from pairing cheeses with the many fine wines which the country also produces, the French also eat cheese for dessert. No wonder they have an innate understanding of how to choose, savour and enjoy cheeses to go with their favourite wines.

The pairing of wine and cheese may seem daunting to the novice, but with a Diplôme De Cuisine in hand and subjects in cheese and wines, you will be well-equipped to understand the nuances of this culinary art.

Offered by Sunway Le Cordon Bleu, the comprehensive training programme enables students to learn the basics of French classical cooking right up to advance cooking techniques employed by professional chefs. The diploma can be completed in nine months study and three months industry placement, comprising three certificates - BasicIntermediate and Superior.

If you’re new to the world of du fromage, take your time to enjoy the journey as you sip on a glass of wine to sweeten the path ahead.

michelin guide

For more information about our programmes please WhatsApp us at 019-3052586 or email to malaysia@cordonbleu.edu