Wines & Cheese for Fun

The more I visit wine retailers, the more I have difficulty finding an exciting wine.

Did we know how to have fun anymore?

Fruity and white wine are basic companions of cheese. Sweet and semi-sweet wine such as Roquefort – Sauterne, Stilton – Porto, Muscat – Bleu des Causses, Proseco – Gorgonzola …all these pairing are based on the subtle opposition of salty and sweet.

 Wines & Cheese for FunHigh score Californian reds are not easy to match. As Hugh Johnson (the greatest English wine critic) describes, the high score system will never deserve good wine but instead encourage over extraction, usage of artificial yeast, over woody, over concentrate Cabernet or Pinot which never will have any “resemblance” to the native Burgundy Pinot Noir, that are light and subtle.

Never try to pair those over-extracted wines described as “Full Body” with strong tannin with cheese. Those tannins are never a good companion for cheeses.

I recently tried Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir from New Zealand which was much lighter, much fruitier than those offered in local production. I enjoy their pairing with Rocky Sage goat cheese or Artisanal aged cheddar and – and, as a reward – I paid only a fraction of the price asked for local production.

Denis Cottin
Fromager, Affineur

Spread the curd!
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6 Responses to “Wines & Cheese for Fun”

  1. Artisanal Cheese Says:

    A letter to Denis from Matthew Bronson

    Bonjour Denis,

    I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your time, insight, and expertise this past Tuesday evening at the Cote du Rhone event at the New Museum. I am such a fan of ARTISANAL, and as I mentioned, my wife and I have taken some cheese pairing classes at The Artisanal Premium Cheese Centre. You really helped to confirm that red wines ARE great with cheeses (perhaps not the CORNAS, which was well suited for a beef dish).

    Anyway, I myself am a huge wine and cheese fan, but being around someone of your knowledge and experience was enlightening. I am a financial trader (currently looking for my next opportunity) and while I know I could never bring the value and wealth of information that you do to the wine and food world, you were very inspiring. I’d love to learn more.

    Thank you again for your time and wisdom. It was a real pleasure to meet “the Pope” of Artisanal.

  2. Denis Says:


    I want to add some precision.

    Harsh or strong tannin are enemy of most palate and of cheese too.

    Softer and velvety tannin are welcome.

    Then we have to consider two factors.

    Age of the wine and age of the cheese.

    Most of red wine will softer their tannin in aging.

    Some excellent properties like Chateau Latour (Pomerol) will not release their wine until they are ready to drink which means they have softer tannin. For example, they release their 2003 before their 2002.

    Unfortunately, most Bordeaux or Californian red are sold very rapidly, much too young. Often with recommendation "ready to drink in 2015 or later".

    As more than 80% of those wines will be drunk in 2009 or 2010, in most of the case their tannin will not be soft at all and will not like the pairing with cheese.

    This was my main concern with Hermitage. Plenty of producers said 2007 is a great year and will be excellent in 5 years or after. In the meantime, if you drink those red, don't try delicate pairing.

    At contrario, as the cheese gain flavor in aging, I much prefer a young Comté of 6 to 12 month to one more "affiné" of 18 to 24 months to pair with red wine. The power of the aged cheese become conflictual with tannin.

    You like red, try my taste of the week: Rocky sage with fruity red Burgundy.

    The mild lactic goat refresh the palate. The sage give a hint of bitterness to make the pairing interesting.

    PS: I like also fruity Pinot Noir of New Zealand or South America.

  3. Artisanal Cheese Says:

    An E-mail correspondence between, Louis Loh and Artisanal Cheese Affineur Denis Cottin.


    Also, would there happen to be any cheeses that would pair well with

    Bordeaux? Or am I dreaming? :-)

    Thank you!



    There are many, many cheeses that pair with Bordeaux wines. Since there are many different types of Bordeaux's, what varietal are you trying to pair cheeses with?

    Customer Service,

    Chris Farris


    I am looking for cheeses that would go well with a Margaux and Pauillac, both of 2003 vintage. And if the evening goes well, we might move into Pomerol too.

    Thanks again,



    For your specific request, I suggest some cheese which will support your beautiful wine. Particularly Saint Nectaire or young Ossau Iraty.

    In any case, not strong cheese as I will not like to risk too much confrontation.



    I went with your suggestion and paired the bordeaux with both Saint Nectaire and Ossau Iraty. They were superb! My friends enjoyed the pairing very much, as well as your Valdeon. So now they know where to source those three cheeses when they need to.

    Thanks again for taking your time in helping me out. I appreciate that.


  4. Paranoid Ideal Dodo Says:

    Thanks for your tips, been looking for wine and cheese pairing ideas.

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