What Cheeses Pair Well with Riesling?

 In CGT Blog

We love Riesling and, frankly, Riesling loves us. Our rolling hills and temperate lakeside temperatures make a natural second “home sweet home” to this celebrated wine grape from Germany and the Alsace region of France.

Since Riesling is part of the “good life” in Michigan, it’s good to know the kinds of cheese to match with it, including cheese made and sold right here in the Traverse City area by our gifted boutique cheesemakers. Below, we discuss the cheese-Riesling rules of thumb, and learn from Manny of Manny’s Cheese Shop, Anne Hoyt of Leelanau Cheese Company and Tina Zinn of The Cheese Lady about the cheese they love the best to pair with our Late Harvest Riesling.

There are some general guidelines that experts keep in mind when they search for good wine-cheese pairings.

Sweet Rieslings pair well with salty cheese:

  • Blue cheese
  • Aged Gouda
  • Feta
  • Parmigiano Reggiano

Semi-dry Rieslings pair well with semi-hard, medium-aged cheese:

  • Havarti
  • Jarlsberg
  • Young Cheddar
  • Monterey Jack

Dry Rieslings pair well with soft, creamy cheese:

  • Brie
  • Camembert

Local Cheese Experts Speak: Great Pairings for Our Late Harvest Riesling

It’s printed right on the label of the Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling, “We created this exquisite after-dinner wine to match well with cheese.” We think you’ll agree.  Here’s what three local cheesemakers and cheese sellers match with this wine in their own homes:

“After dinner I would serve the Late Harvest Riesling with our Cherry Fromage Blanc, spread on an almond thin. The cherry spread is a little sweet. It is our Fromage Blanc blended with a little sugar, tart cherry juice, and dried cherries; just the right amount of sugar and a little tart, perfect with a sweet wine like the Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling.” –Anne Hoyt, Leelanau Cheese Company

While many Leelanau Cheese Company products are staples in local stores, their Cherry Fromage Blanc is only available for sale at the Leelanau Cheese Company in Suttons Bay.

“If you’ve ever just eaten a Riesling grape, you know they’re so full of flavor. The late harvest Riesling is the boldest, most full-flavored Riesling, and my favorite pairing for the Late Harvest Riesling is Capra, a fresh Belgian goat cheese with honey. It’s a sweet cheese that actually brings down the sweetness in the wine and makes the fruit pop like crazy. The other approach that is amazing is going salty and bold with Piave Vecchio, a classic Italian table cheese. It’s full-flavored and stands up to the bold wine. The paring brings out more flavor in the wine and more flavor in the cheese, and that’s when you know you have the perfect match.” -Tina Zinn, The Cheese Lady

“I would pair Le Delice De Bourgogne with CGT’s Late Harvest Riesling. This soft-ripened cheese is creamy, buttery and its slightly salty taste is a nice contrast to the sweetness of the wine.” –Manny Gualco, Manny’s Specialty Cheese

Now a Surprise: Riesling Is the Utility Cheese Wine

In the background behind all these “rules of thumb” and local picks is this: Riesling is the least fussy of all wine varietals when it comes to cheese.  According to seriouseats.com, “If you must pour a single wine with a mixed plate of cheeses, try Riesling, especially off-dry. Rieslings’ acidity, sweetness, tropical fruits and mineral backbone let it partner broadly.”

Finding Your Own Match Made in (Northern Michigan) Heaven

These guidelines and suggestions are simply that. We hope they help steer you to a pairing that takes your enjoyment to a new level. There are thousands of amazing cheeses out there to try, and if you find one you like with your northern Michigan Riesling, then, job well done, no matter which cheese it is. Invite your friends to try it, too. You might be on to a new discovery. We know you’ll have fun finding – and enjoying – an amazing wine-cheese combination that makes a memory.

Check out our Rieslings: