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SommEvents Blog

Perfect Pairings: cabernet sauvignon and cheese

In this 8-part series, we will discuss what a match made in wine and cheese heaven tastes like! From riesling to merlot, you will become equipped with a more in-depth pairing knowledge to help you source the best-tasting cheeses to go with your favourite wines that bring out their best qualities!

Today’s pairing is for cabernet sauvignon. As one of the world’s most popular red wine grapes, cabernet sauvignon is loved for its full body and high concentration.

In a cabernet sauvignon, you can expect to taste flavours of black cherry, black currant, cedar, baking spices, and graphite (aka pencil shavings) as well as some bell pepper.

When pairing this wine with cheese or other foods, you will find that it does well with other strong flavours like rich grilled meats, peppery sauces, and sharp aged cheeses. Although mostly all cabernet sauvignon wines are considered medium- to full-body, not all of them present the same taste profiles. Some lean towards elegant and fruity, while others present savoury and smoky. These differences depend on where the grapes are grown and how the winemaker uniquely makes the wine.

When it comes to finding the right cheese pairing for a cabernet sauvignon, think strong and pungent with a smooth finish. The general rule of thumb is the stronger or more full-bodied the wine is, the stronger the cheese you can pair with it. Pairing a light floral riesling with a Blue cheese would detract from the natural tastes of the wine and overpower it. A cabernet is more versatile for its richness and can stand up to a stronger cheese.

The first cheese we would suggest pairing with a cabernet sauvignon is a Blue cheese. Although we recommend reaching for pungent cheeses with a cabernet sauvignon, Blue cheese can be tricky. Be cautious of overly ripe or heavily aged Blue cheese as you run the risk of getting a metallic or bitter taste from the wine. Instead, seek out a lighter Blue cheese like Neal’s Yard Cashel Blue, or Rogue Creamery’s Caveman Blue from Oregon. These selections have a smoother finish with a slight sweetness and buttery taste which balances nicely with the cabernet.

A washed-rind cheese — hard or soft — also pairs nicely with a cabernet sauvignon. Firstly, what does washed rind mean? The washed rind is a phrase to describe any cheese with a moistened (washed) brine. These cheeses are notoriously known for their creamy texture and distinct smell, or even stinkiness. When pairing with a cabernet sauvignon, we recommend reaching for a Gruyere. The firmness of this cheese would be best enjoyed on warmed bread in small bites. This cheese has a distinct smell and carries notes of beef broth with a slightly nutty but sharp aftertaste. This combination softens the tannins and acidity of the wine and leaves a buttery finish on the palate.

Lastly, a camembert cheese is a top-notch pairing with a cabernet sauvignon. If you’re looking for a softer, gooey cheese to pair with your cabernet sauvignon, a baked Camembert is a decadent option. Camembert is loved for its rich and creamy texture and taste. Pairing this cheese with a cabernet sauvignon will act as an enhancer for the wine, rather than the cheese. The richness of the cheese will coat your mouth in a way that will again minimize some of the tannins and acidity in the wine.

If the cheeses listed above aren’t your favourites, you can’t go wrong with a sharp, aged white Cheddar or any other strong cheese. But if you want to try something different and expand your palate, give one of the cheeses listed above a try! And remember, everyone’s tastes are unique and there really is no “wrong” answer when it comes to your own personal preferences! Happy pairing and look out for next week’s wine and cheese pairings.


The SommEvents Team


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