The art of pairing cheese with wine has been around for centuries, with matches first made in France, home to the Pinot Noir grape and some of the world’s finest fromageries.
The versatility of Pinot Noir makes it one of the most food-friendly wines. It complements a diverse range of appetizers, main courses, and cheeses.
Let’s dive into the details about what cheese to pair with Pinot Noir:
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The Best Cheese for Pinot Noir Wine
A delicate red wine like Pinot Noir pairs well with washed-rind cheeses featuring a soft to medium texture and not excessively intense flavor.
In our experience, the best cheese for Pinot Noir evenings is Comte, but you may also consider the following suggestions to create an even better match for your Pinot Noir:
Comte comes from France and it is made in a region between France and Switzerland which makes it as much Swiss, as it is French.
The Comte fromageries must follow a strict process of “jury terroir” where trained volunteer tasters judge and approve the taste of the cheese.
It is one of the most popular Alpine cheeses with 50 000 tonnes produced annually.
Made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and offering a moderately firm texture, the Comte cheese is balanced and soft on the palate, with a nutty and slightly sweet finish.
It’s the perfect match for Pinot Noir, as it complements the red fruit flavors of the wine, and contrasts the creamy texture of the cheese with the pleasant refreshing acidity of the Pinot Noir.(2)
Taleggio is another great pairing for Pinot Noir. Coming from Italy, Taleggio is smear-ripened and one of the oldest soft cheeses, produced in the popular caves of Val Taleggio since Roman times.
Some findings suggest that Taleggio was enjoyed with wine by noble Romans such as Cicero and Cato the Elder.
Taleggio is a washed rind cheese, made with cow milk, with a pleasantly soft and fruity texture. Strong on the nose, yet mild and fruity on the palate, Taleggio will make a great partner to pair with Pinot Noir, due to its fruity nature and the soft and delicate texture it offers.
Taleggio is the 2nd on our list of best cheese to pair with Pinot Noir.
Camembert is another French legacy cheese that was first made in the 18th century in the Normandy region.
According to the French classifications AOC, Camembert can only be made with unpasteurized cow’s milk. Camembert has a rind of white mold covering it, developed by inoculating the cheese with the Penicillium Camemberti fungus.
Camembert is a moist, soft in texture cheese, with a slightly sweet flavor, and it is a great companion to Pinot Noir.
This widely recognized type of cheese originates from the Lombardy and Veneto regions of the Po River Valley in Italy. Produced from cow’s milk, Provolone is a semi-hard cheese with a smooth texture and a mild smoky aroma and taste, and it comes in 2 forms:
The Provolone Dolce, which is the lighter version of the cheese, aged 2,3 months and is sweet in flavor as the name suggests.
The Provolone Piccante is matured for more than 4 months, and it is sharper and heavier in flavor than the Dolce.
Pairing oak barrel-aged French Pinot Noir would be the perfect choice for the Provolone Dolce, and the smoky flavors of the oak will perfectly complement the smokiness of the cheese.
The US Provolone cheese is much closer to the Provolone Dolce than the Piccante.
One of the softest cheeses on the planet, paired with one of the lightest red wines such as a Pinot Noir, is a mouthfeel to remember. Eventhough the best wines to pair with Brie are white wines, Pinot Noir will also pair well with this delicate cheese.
Brie is a light cheese that comes from the Brie region in France.
Brie is made from cow’s milk and it has a soft color just like Camembert cheese. Brie has a rind of white mold covering it on both sides. The softness of the cheese and the fruity and nutty flavors makes it the ideal pairing for Pinot Noir.
Although Brie is a French cheese, you can find Somerset and Wisconsin Brie on the market, which will be very similar in taste, and therefore a great match for Pinot Noir.
Characteristics to Consider when Pairing Pinot Noir with Cheese
Pinot Noir is a light to medium red wine with silky tannins and a rich fruity flavor. Because of the generous acidity in Pinot Noir wines, it is easy to appreciate how well these wines pair with a wide variety of cheeses.
Think of Pinot Noir wine and cheese pairings as the Yin Yang symbol. There are two ways to do it:
The ideal complementary pairing would be to serve Pinot Noir wine with light and soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert.
An example of contrast would be pairing a semi-hard cheese such as Comte with Pinot Noir. The acidity of the Pinot Noir wine will be able to cut through the cheese’s creamy texture and bring a refreshing taste to the palate.
Heavy cheeses such as blue cheese will have an overwhelming effect on the delicate Pinot Noir wine, making the wine taste off-flavored and bitter. A rich and bold red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon would be a great wine pairing for blue cheese, instead of Pinot Noir.
Pairing Pinot Noir and cheese can be a highly enjoyable experience, and it shouldn’t be spoiled by overthinking. Whether you’re serving a light red like Pinot Noir or a white wine such as a good Chardonnay, simply consider the body of the wine and the texture of the cheese, and go for it—it’s not rocket science.(1)
What are Some Pinot Noir Cheese Pairings For a Beginner to Try?
As a beginner, try pairing Pinot Noir with Brie, Camembert or Gouda. These cheeses have a mild flavor that won’t overpower the delicate Pinot Noir wine and will contribute to a smooth, sweetish taste on your palate.
Can Pinot Noir be Paired With Spicy Cheeses?
Pinot Noir can be paired with spicy cheeses like Pepper Jack, but make sure to choose a bolder Pinot Noir, to avoid overwhelming the wine.
Are There Any Specific Regions or Producers of Pinot Noir That Pair Particularly Well With Certain Types of Cheese?
French Pinot Noir is the perfect wine pairing with soft, creamy cheeses like Brie, Camembert and goat cheese, while Oregon Pinot Noir pairs extremely well with nutty, earthy cheeses like Gruyere and Comte.
My favourite combination for over a decade is Ponzi Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley with Comte cheese.
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