With the change of season and the heat and light starting to drain from the days, our thoughts of food begin to focus on cuddlier, comfort inducing dishes. Cheese raises its stakes this time of year. We usually have a block of “Ol’ Bitey” or a wedge of Brie floating around in the fridge, but from this point on, there’s likely to be more of a focus on different styles of cheeses and pairing them with the right wines.

Australia produces some cracking soft cheese styles, including Camembert and Brie.

These discs of deliciousness are rich on the inside and chalky on the out. A sparkling white wine works well with these cheeses as the high acid levels and tongue-tingling bead of bubbles foils with the rich, gooey centres. Tip: Serve the cheese at room temperature and the sparkling wine extra chilled.

Goat curd cheese is often tart, sharp and slightly funky – in a palate-pleasing kind of way. A young and vibrant Sauvignon Blanc will work with these cheeses. The vibrant herbaceous flavours and the slightly minerally finish of the wine can bring out the flintiness and flavour of the cheese.

Swiss or Gouda style cheeses are often slightly nutty, sometimes with an earthy tang.

A good match is Pinot Noir which is soft and pliable and has a touch of tang from the acid and round, red fruit flavours with a hint of earthiness.

Most of us shave Parmesan over pasta, but it can be a board-worthy cheese in its own right. A saying suggests, “If it grows together, it goes together”. A great example of this is Parmesan with Sangiovese – known in Italy as the wine style “Chianti Classico”. The wine’s dark fruit flavours and food-friendly savouriness work well with the crumbly, salty and slight chalkiness of the cheese.

Cheddar is a fridge staple in many homes and comes in a range of different ages, stages of maturity and degrees of “bite”. With the younger and softer styles of Cheddar, a cool climate Shiraz from the Yass Valley region often works wonders. The older, more mature Cheddars will have more “bite” with a sharper edge and will often pair perfectly with the higher tannin levels and the richer, riper, black fruit flavours of a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Blue cheese is often a taste challenge for most, with its mould induced palate punch.

But try it with a classic Aussie fortified Shiraz, and you might find that the rich and luscious sweetness of the wine will counter the salty, pongy punch of the cheese. Salt and savoury versus sweet and syrupy can be a touch of matching magic.

Cheers!

Brent Lello

Yass Valley Wine Columnist