Why French Cheese And Red Wine Actually Isn't A Good Pairing

We tend to accept that wine (in general) and cheese make good pairing combinations, but it gets a lot more complex. Incorrect pairings like red wine and French cheese may not render the best flavors on the palate. Why not?

The trick is finding a wine with a taste strength equal to the cheese in question. If you accomplish this, the two flavors will balance and unlock a new taste on the drinker's palate. Based on this principle, per Sommailier, the more robust the cheese's flavor, the better suited it is to wines with more tannins. And for this reason, a lot of thought goes into wine pairings.

Tannins occur naturally in plants and unripened fruits and deter animals with their bitter taste. These same tannins are in red wine grapes. They prevail throughout fermentation to influence the taste of finished wine products. The effect is the robust flavor and coating sensation in the mouth of the drinker, per Decanter. Red wine generally has more tannins than white, per SevenFiftyDaily, making its taste more bitter than white wine. Tannins also have an acidic value, per Britannica.

The effect of cheese and wine on the palate

The fat content in cheese blocks the receptors in the tastebuds. The acid in wine dissolves the fat, allowing its taste to filter through, per Usual Wines. If one of the flavors (of the cheese or wine) is significantly overbearing, it will overwhelm the other, and this is not a desirable effect.

French cheese tends to be buttery and subtle, making it better suited to the fruity hints of wines like Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Grigio, per Wisconsin Cheese. When cheese ages, its taste intensifies. Accordingly, the older a cheese is, the stronger its flavor will be.

Pairing with aged cheeses will allow you to explore wines with a heavier acidity, but this still does not justify a red wine pairing. According to Castello Cheese, white wines pair better with cheese in general. Even then, there is still endless potential for experimentation as there are almost as many cultivars of white wine as French cheeses, per Good Pair Days.