Cheese Pairings

Wine and cheese pairings by Janet Fletcher

Tres Sabores 2021 Rosé “Ingrid & Julia”

Tres Sabores Rose on an outdoor tablescape
Green Dirt Farms sheep's milk cheese on wooden board

Cheese picks: Green Dirt Farm Sheeps Milk Cheese. Spreadable Fresh Cheese that is fluffy and delicate; you could season it with some herbes de Provence and olive oil or leave it alone. You could also go with a fresh or lightly ripened cheeses such as mozzarella, burrata, Bellwether Farms Crescenza (CA), Nicasio Valley Formagella or Foggy Morning (CA), feta.

The wine is bright, light, fresh and zesty, the sort of wine that gets my appetite going. I would serve it as an aperitif with the kinds of cheeses I like best at the start of a meal. A platter of feta, radishes, olives, mint and Persian cucumbers would be an appealing spring appetizer with this wine.

Tres Sabores 2021 Sauvignon Blanc

Tres Sabores Sauvignon Blanc on an outdoor tablescape
Mary Dans Les Etoiles cheese in a wooden box

Cheese picks: Mary Dans Les Etoiles soft ripened goat’s milk cheese. Laura Chenel Marinated Goat Cheese with Thyme and Rosemary (CA); Meredith Dairy Sheep & Goat Cheese (Australia).

I like the idea of a lightly herbed cheese with this creamier-styled Sauvignon Blanc, or a cheese marinated in olive oil that you might serve with crostini and a spring salad. The Laura Chenel is fresh tasting and beautifully seasoned; the Meredith Dairy contains sheep’s milk so it’s a little richer and creamier. Cabra al romero is a more mature goat cheese, perfumed by the rosemary on the outside. I think this Sauvignon Blanc has the body and richness to accompany it.

Tres Sabores 2019 Cabernet Franc, North Coast

Tres Sabores North Coast Cabernet Franc bottle and glass with snacks beside them
Beecher's Cheddar Flagship Reserve on butcher paper

Cheese picks: A well-aged bandaged Cheddar like Beecher’s Flagship Reserve (WA), Montgomery’s Cheddar (UK) or Cabot Clothbound (VT)

This lovely red wine has pure and pronounced fruit aromas, especially blackberry, plus youthful tannins that give it the heft to go with aged cheese. Why not put two very different Cheddars on your cheese board—like the mellow Flagship Reserve and tangy Montgomery’s—to spark some dinner party debate?

Tres Sabores 2020 ¿Por qué no?

Tres Sabores Por Que No on an outdoor tablescape
wedge of campo de montalban cheese on a wooden board

Cheese picks:  Corcuera. Campo De Montalban. Cow, goat and sheep’s milk. 

For this smooth and easy-drinking red, I look to cheeses that are equally easy to eat, with the depth that comes from age but no strong or sharp flavors. Some of the new American Cheddars are particularly fruity and mellow and would be great companions. Good choices include Face Rock Bandaged Cheddar, Milton Creamery Flory’s Truckle and Beehive Cheese Promontory. Beehive Cheese Barely Buzzed—essentially Promontory with a coating of ground coffee—was created in the same “why not?” spirit as the wine and would be fun to pair with it.

Tres Sabores 2019 Rutherford Estate Zinfandel

bottle of Tres Sabores Rutherford Zinfandel on a barrel outside
wedge of Vella dry jack cheese on a wooden board

Cheese picks: It’s hard to imagine a better partner for this wine than Vella Dry Jack Special Select. The designation “Special Select” indicates extra aging. This cow’s milk cheese from Sonoma County is a California classic, and the long maturation gives it a lot of concentration, nuttiness and depth. The wine is intense, like blackberry jam, and it needs a cheese of comparable intensity. A terrific second-best would be Valley Ford Cheese Estero Gold Reserve, an aged cow’s milk wheel from Sonoma County.

Tres Sabores 2019 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

bottle of Tres Sabores Rutherford Cabernet in the vineyard
wedge of Ossau Iraty cheese on a white plate

Cheese picks: This beautifully balanced and elegant red has classic Cabernet Sauvignon aromas and structure. My go-to cheeses for Cabernet Sauvignon are aged sheep cheeses, like pecorino Toscano, Manchego, Carr Valley Cave-Aged Marisa (WI) and Vermont Shepherd Verano. Ossau-Iraty from France’s Basque region is a particular favorite.

Tres Sabores 2021 Picpoul Blanc

bottle of Tres Sabores Picpoul Blanc on a barrel with a glass and snacks
Snofrisk cheese with crackers beside it

Cheese picks: fresh, delicate cheeses with no rind, such as Bellwether Farms Crescenza (CA), Nicasio Valley Formagella or Foggy Morning (CA), or Meredith Dairy Sheep and Goat Cheese (Australia). A current personal favorite is Snøfrisk, a soft, spreadable goat cheese from Norway.

The Picpoul Blanc strikes me as delicate, more floral than fruity, with a lovely citrus-blossom scent. It’s so fresh and light on the tongue that it needs a cheese that doesn’t overwhelm it. Consider pouring Picpoul Blanc as an aperitif when you have dinner guests and passing crostini spread with Snøfrisk and chives.

Tres Sabores 2019 Barbera, Sierra Foothills

bottle of Tres Sabores Barbera on a barrel with a glass and snacks
wedges and shavings of Manchego cheese on a wooden board with olives

Cheese picks: mature Manchego (Spain), Pecorino Toscano Stagionato (Italy), Ossau-Iraty (France) or Shepherd’s Way Farms Friesago (MN).

The Barbera is well structured with restrained tannins, a rich mid-palate and medium intensity; it doesn’t taste as high in alcohol as it is. I think of Barbera as a somewhat rustic wine and I like the idea of pairing it with a highly savory cheese like Manchego. An 8-month-old raw-milk Manchego has an aroma of broiled lamb chops and lemon, concentrated flavor and a balance of sweetness and salt that makes you want to keep nibbling.

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Meet Cheese Expert Janet Fletcher

Janet Fletcher

Janet Fletcher is the author or co-author of 30 books on food and beverage, including Wine Country Table, Cheese & Wine and Cheese & Beer. Janet publishes the weekly Planet Cheese blog and is the cheese columnist for Specialty Food and Somm Journal magazines. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America and at Chez Panisse, Janet teaches cheese-appreciation classes around the country. A former staff food writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, Janet received three James Beard Awards and the IACP Bert Greene Award for her journalism. Her food writing has appeared in numerous national publications, including The New York Times, Saveur, Fine Cooking and Food & Wine.

Read more on Janet’s Blog, Planet Cheese