Pairing Wine and Cheese Around the World

Nothing is more a matter of individual taste than, well, individual tastes. Pairing wine and cheese is one of the best examples. There certainly are guidelines that reflect a large consensus about which wine goes well with which cheese. Even individuals can have similar tastes. But there's plenty of room in pairing for the most rabid iconoclast, too.

Start your afternoon with a fine Bel Paese from the Lombardy region in Italy. This creamy, semi-soft cheese is a perfect partner to a fine Chardonnay. The milky aroma will blend nicely with the delicate buttery flavor of that fine white.

Prefer something from farther north? Why not slice off a big wedge of Wensleydale and set it side by side along your tongue with a great Gew├╝rztraminer. This pale yellow delicacy from Wales can be traced back to Cistercian monks in the 11th century. It's an excellent complement to that delicious dry white from Alsace.

Go wild and try a Zamarono, made from unpasteurized Churra sheep's milk from Spain. The nutty flavor combines well with the fermented juice from those Tempranillo grapes. You'll be stomping your heels and clapping your hands in no time.

Had enough of that hot sun? Head to Sweden and try a Graddost. Soft and mild with a hint of tangy bite, just like the inhabitants of that Scandinavian land, it will go nicely with a delicate Chenin Blanc. The wine hails from France's Loire Valley and the pairing makes for a most diplomatic meeting of two great nations.

Head a little south and have a Havarti. This traditional Danish cheese is semi-soft, but the taste is as robust as the people. It makes a fine companion to a Bordeaux and the joining of those traditions of France and Denmark was never more apropos.

Head south again and go for a Gouda. The Dutch have long been among the world's best, and often least recognized, major cheese makers. Pairing a sample with a dry German Riesling will convince even the most hide bound skeptic that these two make the best of friends.

Celebrate your international neutrality by trying an Emmentaler. Mature (aged at least four months), but not wizened, this mild ivory cheese is great for a crackers and cheese dish, not just cooking. Pairing it with a fine Beaujolais from Burgundy will enhance your diplomatic reputation, and make you forget about all the troubles in the world.

Be bold and try a Cheshire, invented in England in the 12th century. Semi-hard, it will have you softening your stance on a variety of issues. Whether red or white, you'll find these lighter than cheddar. Combine it with a lovely glass of Champagne and you will have a delectable dining experience to write home about.

Finish off your world tour with a Cambozola. Creamy and flecked with blue, it's better than Brie for a sunny afternoon. Paired with a grassy Sauvignon Blanc, you won't even need the pasta to consider yourself in a connoisseur's field of dreams.

Be adventurous! See the world.

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