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Entertaining Food + Drink

The 13 Best Summer Wines to Pair with Cheese

Published July 2, 2019 by

Jaclyn Misch of the blog Chasing Grapes picked out the best wines to uncork and enjoy with cheese on a warm summer night.

By Jaclyn Misch

Photography by Derrick Martinez

No matter where you are with your love of wine, there’s always one question you wish you could have a better answer to: What cheese should I have with my wine? The world of cheese is as complex as the world of wine, which means pairing them can require some depth of thought. So, I’ve done some of the work for you and put together my favorite summer wine and cheese pairings. You can find the wines locally at Plum Market and cheeses at Mongers’ Provisions in Detroit.

Jaclyn Misch

1. L. Mawby Talismon, $39.99 (sparkling traditional method)

From: Leelanau Peninsula

+ Idyll Gris Goat 

From: Northport 

A pairing that is purely Michigan! This traditional method sparkling from the Leelanau Peninsula is a blend of chardonnay, pinot gris and pinot noir. It has aromas of toast, cream, almond and yeast and is full on the palate and deeply flavored. I’m pairing it with a hand-ladled goat cheese that has an extremely soft and fluffy consistency. This soft and bright cheese is the perfect counterbalance to the acidity and toasty notes of Talismon bubbles.

2. 2012 Domaine Huet Petillant Cuvée Bru, $29.9 (sparkling vouvray)

From: Loire, Franc

+ Wilde Weide Gouda  

From: Holland

This semi-sparkling Vouvray is a serious gem of the bubbly world. It is fermented to half the pressure of traditional method sparkling; therefore, the varietal character of Chenin Blanc is highlighted. It exudes aromas of honey, apple and peach with a kick of biscuit from the lees aging (time in contact with the spent yeast after fermentation). To accompany these bubbles, I’m pairing this one with Mongers’ Wilde Weide Gouda that has rich, sharp and grassy flavors. Both this sparkling and cheese will become a favorite for those who like boldness!

3. Francois Montand Brut Rosé, $17.99 (sparkling traditional method)

From: Jura, France

+ Comté 

From: Jura, France

As they say, “what grows together, goes together.” This is certainly the case for this special pairing. Not only does this wine and cheese pairing originate from Jura, the smallest wine region in France east of Burgundy, but you can pick them up at Mongers’ Provisions! These bubbles are intense and fine on the palate, with flavors of dried cherry and raspberry. It’s crisp and dry, and it finishes clean with a pleasant sharpness that is perfectly counterbalanced by the cooked cream, garlic and bone broth flavors of the Comté.

4. By.Ott Côtes de Provence 2018 Rosé, $21.97

From: Provence, France

+ Fresh Goat Cheese

Rosé is seriously having a moment right now; it’s everywhere! By.Ott is one of the classics from Provence in the south of France and one of my favorites. It bursts of white peach, apricot, passion fruit and mango. The taste is full, fresh and crisp — perfect for a hot summer day. I’m pairing it with a fresh goat cheese that is light in body and highlights the beautiful fruit notes of this wine.

5. 2017 Daulny Le Clos de Chaudenay, $25

From: Sancerre, France

+ Crottin Goat 

From: Petaluma, California

Sancerre, and indeed sauvignon blanc, is a great wine to pair with creamy cheeses because of its high acidity. This Sancerre is vibrant on the nose and gives aromas of ripe green apple, quince, pink grapefruit, cassis, thyme and hints of fresh fennel. On the palate, the wine is rich and lush, with flavors of pink grapefruit and white nectarines, with a lengthy, elegant finish of saline minerality. For the pairing, I chose California’s take on the traditional Crottin de Chavignol, which originates from a village within Sancerre. Without age, this cheese is light, tangy and almost fluffy. But, with age it becomes bold, flinty and complex. Either option from Mongers’ would work beautifully.

6. 2017 Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling, $14.99

From: Eden Valley, Australia

+ Harbison 

From: Greensboro, Vermont

Eden Valley, Australia, is the place for some seriously amazing rieslings that you need to try! This dry riesling has elegant flavors of stone fruit, ripe lime, apple and nectarine with concentrated citrus, taut minerality and excellent acidity. Paired with this spreadable cheese, they make a match made in heaven. As the cheese coats your palate with woodsy, sweet, citrus and vegetal flavors, the high acidity of the riesling allows it to slice through and integrate perfectly for a refreshing and delicious combination.

7. 2018 Badenhorst Family Wines Chenin Blanc, $13.99

From: Swartland, South Africa

+ L’Amuse Gouda  

From: Holland, Netherlands

Fans of rich and full-bodied chardonnay, may I have your attention please? Explore the world of Chenin Blanc! Having been aged on its lees for several months, this wine has elegant texture and notes of white peach, apple and honey. Enjoyed with a gouda that shows characteristics of caramel and butterscotch, thanks to a warm environment maturation, these flavor profiles are a great congruent pairing.

8. 2015 Domaine Savary Selection Vieilles Vignes, $29.97

From: Chablis, France

+ Toma 

From: Point Reyes, California

Chardonnay has so many faces throughout the world, but Chablis is perhaps its most distinct. Wines from this region are heralded for their elegant mineral expression, pure varietal character and amazing affordability given their reputation. The best of them, like this one from Domaine Savary, pair those characteristics with a touch of oak, creamy texture and an expressive fruit profile of apricot, pear and lemon zest. Paired with the tangy, buttery and creamy notes of Point Reyes Toma, this combination works on every level.

9. 2017 Chateau Thivin Côte de Brouilly, $25.97

From: Beaujolais, France

+ Challerhocker Cow Cheese

From: Switzerland

Perhaps one of the most overlooked regions in the world, Beaujolais has an amazing ability to create wines that combine high-toned fruits and refreshing acidity, with edgy tannins and rustic earth characteristics. The most respected areas within this region, such as Côte de Brouilly, are given the designation of “Beaujolais Cru.” A wine like this needs a cheese that can stand up to its expressive nature: Enter Challerhocker! Its dense, creamy texture with brown butter and sweet cream notes, topped off with a touch of melted leeks, is just what you’ll want to reach for after pulling the cork on this one.

10. 2014 Domaine Serrigny Savigny les Beaune Pinot Noir, $33.99

From: Savigny-lès-Beaune, France

Alp Blossom

From: Vorarlberg, Australia

Savigny-lès-Beaune is one of my favorite regions in Burgundy to find hidden gems. This single parcel pinot from the Les Pimentiers vineyard is fermented de-stemmed, which accentuates the fruit profile while still maintaining the earthy characteristics we love from Burgundian pinots. Alongside a cheese that is, yes, literally covered in herbs and flowers, these two harmonize effortlessly. The cheese is reminiscent of Biscoff cookies, savory herbs and rose petals, which are perfectly accompanied by the red fruits, cinnamon and dried soil present in the wine.

11. 2005 Lopez de Heredia Rioja Reserva Tempranillo blend, $49.97

From: Rioja, Spain

+ 1-Year Aged Manchego

From: La Mancha, Spain

One of the great rules of pairing food and wine is to match the intensity of the wine with the intensity of the food, a rule that is well represented by this pairing. Having aged for a minimum of one year in oak, and three years prior to release, Rioja Reserva is a wine of great intensity. The dried fruits and barnyard notes that come with age are perfectly matched by nutty and gamey notes of Manchego. Aged rioja also happens to be one of the best bargains of the wine world, so grab a bottle from this classic and renowned producer, and enjoy!

12. 2015 Dry Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, $23.99

From: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma

+ Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

From: Peacham, Vermont

It’s no wonder that the world’s most widely planted grape varietal pairs so well with the United States’ favorite cheese. Cabernet sauvignon demands a cheese that can stand up to its bold flavors and lengthy finish. Aged cheddar, like the Cabot Clothbound, offers deeply savory, tangy characteristics and leaves you with a touch of sweet caramel on the finish. Paired with the bold red and black fruit profile of Dry Creek Vineyard’s Cabernet, which also offers notes of baking spices and caramelized sugar, this is a definite crowd pleaser.

13. Royal Tokaji, $48.99 (dessert wine)

From: Hungary

+ Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese

From: Greensboro, Vermont

Perhaps one of the most overlooked regions in the world, Beaujolais has an amazing ability to create wines that combine high-toned fruits and refreshing acidity, with edgy tannins and rustic earth characteristics. The most respected areas within this region, such as Côte de Brouilly, are given the designation of “Beaujolais Cru.” A wine like this needs a cheese that can stand up to its expressive nature: Enter Challerhocker! Its dense, creamy texture with brown butter and sweet cream notes, topped off with a touch of melted leeks, is just what you’ll want to reach for after pulling the cork on this one.

Jaclyn Misch

Miss Michigan 2013 Jaclyn Misch makes wine fun and approachable, one glass at a time. She recently received a master’s in wine management from the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley and is now pursuing a certification from the Global Wine and Spirits Education Trust. She works with wine brands from all over the world and shares exceptional bottles and recommendations on her Instagram @JaclynMisch and blog chasing-grapes.com.

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