National Wine and Cheese Day
annually on July 25th (since 2014)
National Wine and Cheese Day, created by Jace Shoemaker-Galloway, celebrates the pairing of wine and cheese, which has been done for hundreds of years. One reason certain wines and cheeses began being paired together is they were from the same locations. Going back generations, some cheeses and wines that have been paired have come from the same village, or even from the same farm. In France, in the Brie region, Brie cheeses have long been paired with local wines like Beaujolais. In Italy, Asiago cheese has long been paired with wines that came from same the region, such as Italian Chianti and Brunello.
Besides location being a factor as to which wines and cheeses are paired together, historic adages—which likely first surfaced among British wine merchants—seem to have played a role in wine pairings, either by inspiring or reinforcing what people found to be true about cheese and wine. One example is the phrase "white wine with fish and red wine with meat," which asserts that the more richness a wine has, the heavier the paired food should be. This belief still holds today, although it has become more sophisticated. Another phrase from the time is "buy on an apple and sell on cheese," meaning that if a wine tastes good with a sugary and acidic apple, it will probably pair well with many kinds of cheese.
How to Observe
Have some wine and cheese together today. Wine and cheese of equal intensity should be paired. Higher alcohol content wines—over 14.5% ABV—are more intense, and should be paired with more intense cheeses. Lower alcohol content wines—under 12% ABV—are less intense and should be paired with more delicate cheeses. Delicate cheeses like Gruyère should be paired along with wines like Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio, not a bold Cabernet Sauvignon.
Bolder red wines go better with aged cheeses. When cheese ages, it loses its water content, meaning it gets a higher fat content, which makes it richer in flavor. Cheeses that have been aged over a year should be chosen; some well-aged cheeses for bolder wines include Cheddar, Gruyère, Manchego, Gouda, Provolone, or Parmesan.
Stinky, washed-rind, and blue-veined cheeses should be paired with sweeter wines such as Moscato, Gewürztraminer, and Port. The sweetness of the wine and funkiness of the cheese balance each other out. Port goes well with Stilton, and Sauternes pairs well with Roquefort. Sparkling wines should be paired with creamy cheeses such as Brie, Muenster, Camembert, Cremont, or Époisses de Bourgogne.
As mentioned in the description, wine and cheese from the same location often are good with each other. Try some Beaujolais with Brie, or some Chianti or Brunello with Asiago. You could also try some Sauvignon Blanc with Goat Cheese, Chardonnay with Époisses de Bourgogne, or Garnacha with Manchego. Why not try pairing some wine from a local winery with some local cheese?
If you are having trouble pairing wine and cheese, pick out some firm, nutty cheese, as it pairs with most wines. The fat counterbalances the tannins in heavier wines, but the cheese is also delicate enough to go with lighter white wines. Pick up some Swiss, Gruyère, Abbaye de Belloc, Comté Extra, Emmental, or Gouda.
You could take a look at a wine and cheese pairing chart to get a visual, and could even put one on your wall as a quick reference. You could also pick up some books on wine and cheese pairing, such as Cheese & Wine: A Guide to Selecting, Pairing, and Enjoying, or Tasting Wine and Cheese: An Insider's Guide to Mastering the Principles of Pairing. You could even pick up a handy wine and cheese pairing swatch book. Above all, wine and cheese pairing is really about finding out what you like, so spend the day trying many different things.