So you’ve got yourself a delicious Chardonnay and you’re trying to figure out what cheese to serve alongside it. Just like cheese, all Chards are not created equal. They can range from fruity and crisp, to buttery and oaky. Therefore, every Chard isn’t going to pair the same with a specific cheese.
Your first step is to determine the flavor profile of your Chardonnay–is it unoaked, lavishly oaked, or somewhere in the middle? The wine label should tell you a little about the wine and whether or not it was aged in stainless steel barrels (unoaked) or oak barrels (oaked). If the label doesn’t say, your local Bottle King wine-guys should be able to help you out!
- Unoaked Chardonnays are the easiest to pair with cheese. Because they are crisp, fruity, and acidic, they can pair well with creamy, buttery cheeses (such as triple-cremes and Brie) to mild, semi-soft cheeses (goat’s milk cheese or Colton Bassett Stilton).
- Mildly oaked Chardonnays also pair well with triple-creme cheeses as well as some mildly sharp, nutty cheddars (such as Cabot Clothbound Cheddar). They can also work well with some washed-rind cow’s milk cheeses as well as many mild, cow’s milk blues.
- Heavily oaked Chardonnays are the most difficult to pair because they themselves can be rich, creamy, and buttery. In order to pair well with this wine, the cheese you choose should be assertive. Try a firmer, medium-sharp cheese that is not buttery itself. Some mild, sheep’s milk cheeses have been known go well with oaked Chards as well as some mild blues.
Keep in mind that pairing is subjective to begin with! I encourage you all to try your own pairings and see what works for you. We’d love it if you shared some of your favorite Chardonnay & cheese pairings in the comments below!