Spring is in full-bloom and summer is on the horizon, so its time to move the party outdoors. What better way to celebrate the warm weather than with a cold, crisp glass of bubbly? Whether you are drinking Champagne, sparkling wine, Prosecco, or Lambrusco, there are certain types of cheese that will bring out the full flavors of each style. Here are five recommendations for sparkling wine and European cheese pairings that we love.
When in Rome…
Pair the delicate bubbles of a top-of-the-line Prosecco with a soft-ripened, gooey cheese from Italy.
ALTANEVE PROSECCO SUPERIORE D.O.C.G. (Treviso, Italy) $29
- La Tur (Italy): A dense, creamy blend of pasteurized cow, goat and sheep milk from the Piedmont region.
- Robiola (Italy): This luscious little slab of mild, creamy goodness offers a perfectly balanced set of flavors: mushroomy, salty, and sweet.
California Sparkling, Meet Bo Peep
Pair a semi-firm sheep’s milk cheese with a dry California sparkling wine to enhance the nutty flavors of the cheese without overwhelming the subtle, creamy texture of the wine.
IRON HORSE Brut X 2009 (Sonoma, California) $50
- Pyrenees Brebis (France): Made in the Basque country and the Bearn region of France's Pyrenees Mountains, this small-scale pasteurized cheese is produced from floral sheep milk and given a half year to deepen in flavor.
- Manchego (Spain): Crafted by the Corcuera family in Castilla-La Mancha using fresh, pasteurized sheep’s milk, El Trigal Manchego develops a rich nuttiness and pleasant gaminess after over a year.
Go All Bold
Try a firm, sharp cheese with an Italian Lambrusco. The off-dry sparkling red wine will contrast well with a salty, tangy cheese.
MIONETTO Lambrusco NV (Emilia-Romagna, Italy) $10
- Noord Hollander (Holland): This four year aged gourmet cheese has deep flavor with caramel overtones and tiny salt crystals.
- Gruyère (Switzerland): This unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese has been around since the 13th Century and may be aged anywhere from six months to three years.
Classic Champagne Loves a Washed-Rind Cheese
Enhance the funkiness of a washed-rind cheese with a Blanc de Blancs chardonnay-based Champagne. Washed-rind cheeses are aged in a salty brine, bringing out an earthy tartness in the cheese.
HENRIOT Blanc de Blancs Brut NV (Champagne, France) $55
- Époisses (France): Translated as “completely worth the effort”, the Bourgogne cave-aged cow’s milk round will melt in your mouth with its bacon custardy creamy paste.
- Langres (France): Made in Champagne, this cow’s milk cheese has concave top designed to cradle a splash of terroir-appropriate bubbles.
Blue Cheese and Demi-Sec Champagne
For salty blue cheeses, contrast with a sweet or off-dry demi-sec. The flavors will create an umami sensation on the palate. You won’t be able to stop at just one bite. We promise.
LAURENT-PERRIER Demi-Sec NV (Champagne, France) $35
- Roquefort (France): From Southern France, this sheep’s milk blue cheese has been produced since 1411. Sweet and fudgy, its flavors are peppery and sometimes quite spicy.
- Stilton (United Kingdom): Served in 1720 at the Bell Inn in Stilton, this Leicestershire cow’s milk cheese is firmer than Roquefort and has an earthier, briny flavor.