Why You Should Drink White Wine with Cheese

white wine & cheese

Some time last year, I pretty much stopped buying red wine. France was always la France, feminine, and I find white wines much more nuanced and interesting, like women. Whereas (depending upon where you live) men are tough and brutal. And in my own special way of reasoning the unreasonable, the longer I lived here the more I found myself gravitating toward the lighter, cleaner flavors of the vins blancs of la France. I also realized that I felt better when I woke up the next day if I stuck to whites. And since I have to wake at least once a day, that’s a reasonable consideration.

white wine bleu cheese

There’s the old adage about “if it grows together it goes together” and keeping in line with the French concept of terroir (roughly: shared territory), something like a Selles-sur-Cher, a tangy, yet delicate goat cheese from the Loire goes quite nicely with brisk Sancerre, Muscadet, or a Sauvignon blanc. Which, by no coincidence, come from the same region. Slightly pungent Langres from Burgundy partners well with bracing Chablis or unoaked French chardonnay. The milky-creamy cheese is rich enough; no need to blast your palate with a full-on red. (Although I’m wondering if my argument reached its first hole since some people are more concerned with the wine rather than the cheese. So I guess I’m not one of them.)

I’ll also concede that some of it depends on personal preference, yet I’m weary of the dogma that only red wine goes with cheese—and that’s that. If you like red wine with your cheese. Well then, by all means, drink red wine.

Yet try a strong blue cheese, including musty Bleu de Termignon, and you’ll find a spot-on pairing is a slightly fruity or spicy wines from Alsace, such as Riesling or Gewürtztraminer, or Graves, from Bordeaux. A droopy round Mont d’Or? An abrupt red wine would kill any of the sublime milkiness of this very special cheese. So I reason with you, please, give white a chance.

Even if you don’t eat much French cheese, think about it: What kind of twisted mind serves a grilled cheese sandwich with anything but Fumé blanc or Pinot grigio? (Or beer, and that’s not red either.) But lest you think I’m some sort of reverse snob—although I’ve been accused of worse—a gorgeous, syrupy Sauternes with Roquefort? Holy mother-of-all-the-most-amazing food-and-wine combinations.

goat cheese

There’s an odd prejudice globally I encounter that red wine is somehow more sophisticated than white wine. Phooey. Some of that probably has to do with all the swirling in oversized glasses and people tossing out names like Burgundy and Bordeaux. And while there are a lot of very fine wines from those places, just because the bottle says “Bordeaux”, doesn’t mean the wine is any good. You can get a cheap bottle of wine labeled Bordeaux for around 2 bucks in any French supermarket and they’re undrinkable. Even for a snob renversé like me.

tomme white wine

I was in a café the other day and talking to the waiter who scoffed when I said that white wine went better with cheese. He shook his head, wagged his finger, and said, “Pas de tout! Le vin rouge est obligatoire avec le fromage..” So I responded with an inquiry; “Alors…what about vin de Jura (white wine) with Comté?” which is the most natural pairing in the world, and one that even the most assured French waiter can’t talk himself out of.

“Mais oui!…Bien sûr, monsieur…” he eagerly concurred.

Selles-sur-Cher cheese

If I can convince a Parisian waiter, you should be convinced as well. And any final hold-outs would agree that Champagne goes with everything. So next time a waiter or someone else tries to foist a hearty, viscous glass of red at you with a cheese course, feel free to ask for white instead. You have my permission. Now pass the Sauvignon blanc…

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  • Susan
    January 3, 2011 7:41am

    And white wine is used in fondue…so there!

  • January 3, 2011 8:22am

    May I say, “Here, here!”?

  • January 3, 2011 8:50am

    Love this. Totally agree about the more delicate pairings.
    Especially loved the bit about convincing a Parisian waiter. Mais oui!

  • Tuti Lewerissa
    January 3, 2011 8:54am

    What a mouthwatering topic! And I couldn’t agree more! I love époisse and I alway pair it with Gewurztraminner, as I do comté or etivaz. But for stronger blue cheeses I allways stuck to portwine, because I need something sweet. I’m definately going to try a Sauternes as you suggested!

  • January 3, 2011 9:06am

    ha ha ha! I’m convinced, cheers!

  • January 3, 2011 9:15am

    Well I’m not thoroughly convinced yet. I’ll have to do a fair share of taste-tests before I can conquer! ;)

  • David
    January 3, 2011 10:07am

    An even better option with most cheeses is beer. A nutty brown ale with a sharp cheddar, strong pale Belgian ales and barleywine with pungent blue cheeses and pale ales with the hard Italian cheeses. Maybe a gueuze with an Epoisses or a crisp lager with Brie.

  • January 3, 2011 10:56am

    A legitimate argument and I totally agree, especially that Champagne goes with everything!
    However there are some rich, local ewe’s milk cheeses from the Languedoc that pair beautifully with the local red wine. But I think they are the exception, not the rule.

  • January 3, 2011 11:06am

    Well done! Winning a food and wine argument with a French waiter is a real accomplishment! Personally, I am of the opinion that red wine is popular simply because a cheap red is more likely to be drinkable than a cheap white. Whites can go very, very wrong much more easily than reds.

    I have always served white wine with fondue, personally. However, there is one red wine and cheese pairing that is sublime: red port and Stilton. Mmmmm…

  • Sigrid
    January 3, 2011 11:29am

    You’re so right! It’s a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes tale. Everybody seems to know but only a few dare to say it. We talked to lots of sommeliers in starred restaurants here in Paris, and many of them say, almost with a sad expression on their faces, that their customers still think they have to have red with their cheese. (They also say that they couldn’t bring a Frenchman to try a German or Austrian red, so there goes your myth of the French wine-experts.)

    And I have to second your thoughts about feeling better the next morning. Took me more than 40 years (well, not entirely, of course …) to find out that the headaches don’t come from the two bottles of white but from the one or two glasses of red. And yes, we only drink “good” red wine around here.

  • January 3, 2011 11:42am

    Not convinced BECAUSE in many places where I have eaten, the reds were better than the whites. I need that flexibility because I eat and drink outside of France. There are Italian pairings that agree with your proposal, however. Pugliese rosetto is better than red or white with buratta, but lacking rosetto, go for Prosecco, eh? Aged Pecorino may be much better with a passito than with a local red, but the local red will almost always be better than the local white.

  • January 3, 2011 11:44am

    I love white wine and have gotten tired of being looked down upon for this. I have tried to like Red wine and I have had some really great Bordeaux and Gigondas but nothing tastes better to me that white or rose. Maybe because it is sweeter. I haven’t tried Sauterne with Roquefort but I will now-sounds fabulous. And I need to find a box of Mont d’Or again. That’s so good.

  • January 3, 2011 11:55am
    David Lebovitz

    Meg and Tuti: Yes, port goes really well with the strong blue-veined cheeses. I love them together. I just find it odd when people insist that one should only drink red wine with cheese.

    Linda and Sigrid: I’m not sure I understand completely where that dogma came from but I hope that if people (like me) who prefer white wine won’t be made to feel like we’re committing some grave culinary faux pas

  • adrian
    January 3, 2011 1:36pm

    I don’t know much about wine, but would’ve thought white would be a more natural pairing to cheese than red. It pays to challenge these concepts in any case, even or especially if they are “obligatoire”.
    For instance, I like the way Clay Gordon recommends pairing a red wine with a milk chocolate instead of the obligatoire dark. And I love the looks when I recommend the same to some of the customers at our chocolate shop. The reaction is always the same: “No, it must be dark chocolate. And it must be at least 70%.” Or something along those lines.
    Since you mentioned your shift towards white I have felt more comfortable drinking it myself. And I used to scoff at my sister who will drink nothing but ;-)

  • January 3, 2011 2:09pm

    I’ve been desperately trying to think of somethign pithy, relevant, and intelligent to say about wine, but my mind has been turned into a green puddle by the images of those glorious, glorious cheeses. If it weren’t 11:15pm here in Australia, and if I hadn’t just eated half a tub of Poppycock, I’d be hoeing into the one wedge of gorgonzola I have in my fridge…

  • BRAVO! Now if I could only convince The Husband on this subject…

    Seriously, where did all these ‘rules’ come from? I was recently at a wine dinner in Bordeaux, where all of the courses were seafood of some sort, and all the parings were beautiful Bordeaux reds. The recipes were all riffs on local cusine – they eat a lot of fish out of the estuary – and the wines of the region are mostly red. It was amazing, of course.

    Would you ever find pairings like that anywhere else?

  • January 3, 2011 3:59pm

    I really only pay attention to what tastes good to me; that being said, I’ve always preferred white wine with cheese. And since I’m from the dairy state, I’ve had many opportunities to eat some really good cheese.

    I have to say, though, that when it comes to pairing wine with pizza, I prefer the bubbly; to me, champagne pairs better with pizza than any other beverage, including beer.

  • January 3, 2011 4:55pm
    David Lebovitz

    adrian: Many people believe that red wine is a better partner with dark chocolate. But since dark chocolate and red wines can have a lot of tannins, a softer wine like Port usually works much better.

    I once read something that said when you are trying on clothes, you should try something on that you totally wouldn’t think would look good on you. So it’s good to tastes a few wines with cheese and come up with your own pairings. Or chocolate!

  • Stephanie
    January 3, 2011 5:02pm

    I do love red wine, but when offered a nice white Sancerre or a white Burgundy…….I am beyond happy! The problem for me is that to enjoy a white wine, it has to be a much finer quality than a red. I can ingest and appreciate all kinds of red table wines, but a white must be a very smooth blend (which meants more expensive) for me to enjoy it.

    And you are so right in saying that Champagne goes with everything.

    Have never tried vin de Jura with Comté. I will put it on the list!!!

  • January 3, 2011 5:24pm

    We also switched from red to white wine. I grew up in Palatinate (which was French and German during history) and Riesling and Gewuerztraminer are always served with cheese. A regional Sekt would be perfect, too. So, there you go!

  • January 3, 2011 6:16pm

    Not only was this insightful, I’m feeling inspired to drink, thank you David. Keep these coming!

  • Mary Knoll
    January 3, 2011 6:18pm

    The variety and beauty of the glassware that you selected enhances your point. Each of your pairings has a different character but all are equally enticing in their own way. Once again, your blog inspires me to go out shopping – oh – and eating and drinking too!

  • January 3, 2011 9:09pm

    La française que je suis est parfaitement d’accord, même si l’époisse de ce soir était juste accompagnée d’eau :-( Bonne année David !

  • January 3, 2011 9:11pm

    White meat/white wine, red meat/red wine, so the ‘white’ cheese/white wine and dark (mouldy) cheese/red wine combination seems natural. There are restaurants pairing white meat with red wines (not the bold reds) and this is an exception. With cheeses it seems the exception has become the rule.

    Here’s my take from a nutritional perspective (and I am not a nutritionist). Red wine reduces risk of heart disease while cheeses perhaps increase it (very debatable). So a red wine/cheese combination has neutral effect on the heart:)

  • January 3, 2011 9:34pm

    I am a confirmed red wine drinker, but after reading this, I will have to give white wine a chance when eating a special cheese.

    Part of my penchant for red wine is that I do not care for cold wine, preferring cool room temperature. Do you think white wine at room temperature would be just as good?


  • January 3, 2011 10:05pm
    David Lebovitz

    Cooking in Mexico: Interestingly, I’ve heard French cavistes say that Americans drink red wine too warm and white wine too cold. However when I was in Switzerland, the white wines were served extremely well-chilled. I tend to like cool reds and very cold white wines, so maybe I’m half-French, half-américain~

    la concineria loca: Je suis d’accord. Après les fêtes de fin d’année, je boire beaucoup de l’eau aussi.

  • Sue
    January 3, 2011 10:27pm

    I have felt this way my entire adult life and have always felt that anyone I shared this opinion with reacted as if my palate (or mind) was too uneducated to appreciate the red wine and cheese pairings. Thank you for validating my thinking!
    The next time I uncork a white I’m offering a toast in your honor!

  • January 4, 2011 12:32am

    Love this! I recently paired a white wine with a truffle cheese (as a dare…well sorta) and it went very nicely.

  • AMR
    January 4, 2011 1:39am

    That is one incredibly beautiful photo of the happy little wheel (?) of moldy cheese. I can see every spore on my monitor. Incredible depth. :)
    Also, as someone who doesn’t eat cheese (and without a good reason not to, imagine), I’m tempted to start as I once read “that if someone who’s an expert tells you to eat something—you should eat it.”

    Bonne année David.

  • Marcellene
    January 4, 2011 2:35am

    It’s about time that people open their minds to white wines and cheese. Thank you, David!

  • January 4, 2011 3:15am

    I’ve always favored white wines over red, I find them to be more interesting, subtle, delicate, and varied.

    Not having a headache the next day is just a bonus.

    Thanks for coming out of the white wine closet (or cellar), David.

  • January 4, 2011 3:21am

    I’ve always said I’m aging like a fine wine – but nuanced and interesting, i’ll take that too!

    Happy new year David!

  • January 4, 2011 3:35am

    Hear, hear!!

    I feel validated now, with my love for good white wines.

    I like red wines, but I have finally accepted that my true love is a good white wine. And I too love them well chilled. It took me a long time to accept this, as I too thought that maybe I was just not appreciative enough of a good red wine. I would always go first for a white…

  • January 4, 2011 3:56am

    Thanks for giving your attention to white wine! I agree that people tend to pay more attention to red wine when it comes to drinking with cheese.

    That said, I have never liked any Chardonnay that I’ve tasted but I do like other whites. The Chardonnays I’ve had are dry and metallic– not exactly my favorite. Have you heard of “ABC”, which means All But Chardonnay? I guess I can relate to that.

  • January 4, 2011 4:07am

    Like you, I get a nasty hangover when I drink red wine. It only takes about a glass. Not sure why. I believe the alcohol content is similar. French white wines are the best. :)

  • Thea
    January 4, 2011 4:20am

    Convinced and transformed me. My preference since forever has been hardcore red. Two-fisted Zin drinker, our almost California native red. You’ve worn my psyche down over the past year writing of white wine with your meals. Perhaps I’ve tasted too many baaad reds. Cafe down the street serves a wonderful chilled French white tasting of spring rains. If you ever wonder if you have impact on this ol’ world, you do. Plus, drinking white wine changes one into a more subtle, nuanced version of one’s previous self. Right?

  • christina
    January 4, 2011 4:36am

    That’s because you live in the land of plentiful “unoaked” wine and have easier access to the better German wines unlike those of us who unfortunately do not…Yet another one of the many things that I am envious of in your life in France/Europe..Oh well…Happy new year……..However I must admit to an addiction to the very good California Zins and Cabs…and even to those that are not….You are a joy to read…..Thank you……

  • January 4, 2011 4:46am

    and lest we forget one other benefit of this white wine pairing, I can hardly think of something less attractive in a dinner partner than a mouthful of red teeth and gums, eeeoooooo!

  • January 4, 2011 5:13am

    I like cheese and I like wine and I love the wine and cheese pairing and very often, I am colour blind when it comes to wine and cheese!

  • January 4, 2011 5:22am

    But of course. Don’t you think that, in general, white wine pairs better with food than red? And when in doubt, a Riesling from Alsace usually works.


  • January 4, 2011 6:01am

    I’m like you, the wine should be complimenting the cheese, not the other way around. Cheese should be the main event and the wine, the accessory! And I say, rules, shmules! Do what you want!!

  • Gavrielle
    January 4, 2011 6:07am

    Obligatoire? Pffffffft! I suspect your white wines are a better match for many cheeses than our New Zealand ones, however, David. French whites are subtle, whereas our whites, especially the sauvignon blancs, tend to leap up and grab you by the throat. Not that that’s a bad thing. As with the red/white thing, it should be a matter of preference, not according to some ossified rule.

  • January 4, 2011 7:00am

    Totally agree AND please pass the Sauvignon Blanc! Plus, it doesn’t make your teeth look gray.

  • Donna Adams
    January 4, 2011 7:43am

    Love your “SWEET LIFE” David your right on with the Alsace, Rieslings, and Gewtz’s, Lovely pairings, opps forgot the Sauternes, excellent! also with L’epoisse, Comte,

    Bonne annee!!!

  • Marji
    January 4, 2011 9:07am

    Oh, I’m always so pleased to see those sassy New Zealand and Australian whites on the shelf or the list. I know that the red wine has the slight health advantage, but I cannot say I prefer to drink it over white, unless with red meat. And living in California it is pretty easy to get a drinkable white variety. A world of abundance!

    Love your blog and photos!

  • Nevertheless it is still difficult to admit that Red Vine goes better with French Cheese in General. Yes, there are some pairs… Just exceptions let’s say that confirm the general rule :-)

  • Mir
    January 4, 2011 10:07am

    Well, im the one who has started as white wine drinker, and slowly moved to drinking red wines and slowly from from very dry champagne/ sparkling wine to sweeter ones.
    And i seem to be opposite for other commenters, red wont give me headache like whites usually do. I think its more of my tendency have migren wich isnt fitting with white wine. I do, how ever appreciate good white wine, but over wine generally, i favor cider, all lovely artisan cider from Bretagne, those are my true love.
    And for french people’s knowing their wine, thats pure myth, they know just the region where they come from, and nothing else. And suggesting that any other country makes good wine is horror. And that leads to it, while living here in Paris, i have started to know where to go find my “weird” wines, wich are usually ridicously cheap here because it seem that most dont buy those. im not at all sorry for it, more for me :)

  • Monica from Spain
    January 4, 2011 10:26am

    David, go for it. There is so much fuss on red wines pairing with cheese, but cheese eaters are much more convinced because, let me throw you a question:

    Pairing the cheese with best fruits that go with them which are sweet apples for those cured cheeses with a touch of sweetness, acid apples for those cured with a pungeon touch. Fresh figs with blue cheeses and goat acid cheeses. So there you have it, if the white wines have “touches” of pears, apples, figs, and dried fruits..the pairings with those wines will be much more reasonable than red wines, and will depend on how much “sugary” or fresh they are in mouth.

    The red fruits (strawberries, cassis) go well with fresh non matured cheeses, and so do red wines.

    Please try old port or spanish Pedro Ximenez (that is like liquid dark golden raisins) with blue cheese as Valdeon o La Peral, Gamoneu or Cabrales and you tell me…

  • adrian
    January 4, 2011 11:45am

    Interesting advice, David. Maybe I should try the plaid shirt with the lime-green corduroys ;-)
    And I agree with you on the tannins. At a wine and chocolate tasting a few years back, a dark chocolate was paired with a nice white wine from Austria where the grapes had partially fermented on the vine due to botrytis. And don’t get me started on rum and chocolate! A nicely aged ron Zacapa Centenario is almost liquid chocolate itself.
    Oh, thanks for the book tip, too! Am immensely enjoying “Boozehound”.

  • January 4, 2011 11:50am

    I am totally with you on this one. I am a white wine lover and often have to defend this love against my French friends that say red wine is the better of the two wines.

  • January 4, 2011 12:24pm

    Yes! White wines go very well with cheese! Eric Fréchon (in Hotel Bristol) propose ‘le Comté’ with some ‘vin jaune’ for exemple; cheese with a good chosen wine is really délicious!

  • Mariceli Ramirez
    January 4, 2011 3:43pm

    I completely agree with you David. My husband and I drink whites almost all
    the time. It’s more sophisticated and not as harsh.

  • Ange
    January 4, 2011 4:23pm

    Huge fan of your blog, just bought your book! Love from Hong Kong : )

  • January 4, 2011 5:00pm

    I completely agree, white’s acidity can make an amazing match with some cheeses. And as said at the end of this post and as I discovered a few years ago by accident at a tasting, that Champagne and soft cheese is a match made in heaven!

  • January 4, 2011 5:38pm

    As a serious wine and cheese lover who is currently pregnant and very much missing wine and most of the cheeses I love – this post is kind of torture.

    I am an unabashed white wine drinker (or Rose, which to me is liquid poetry) as well. I can’t wait to try some of the combinations you mentioned after I have this baby! Access to great wine and cheese (without breaking the bank) is one of the things I love best about living in Berlin.

  • January 4, 2011 6:21pm

    As a dedicated red wine drinker, I concur. In the past year I have gravitated to the whites and roses, in particular French (vs. California, where I live) and now I am a convert. We hosted a European wine and cheese pairing party earlier in the year, and it was at that moment that my eyes were opened to the perfect pairings of white and cheese, especially with attention to terroir.

  • tim hartzer
    January 4, 2011 6:22pm

    Like the white wine views, but am more interested ce matin in les photos. What lens are you using for the fromage closeups – a zoom or a prime?

  • January 4, 2011 6:24pm


    We have been drinking Prosecco (which I would think would qualify as a form of white wine) with cheese for years. Now I know that we are not the heathens that I suspected we might be (although the Cheetos and Pringles tell a different story).

    Thank you for the lovely post!

  • January 4, 2011 6:47pm

    Thank you David, I love white wine, I love red as well, but too many times have I witnessed raised eyebrows, and cocked heads when I opt for a white. God forbid it’s a Riesling or Gewurztraminer. While I don’t keep score, I do recognize who one should not waste a fine Sauternes on. Happy New Year Paris Sweet Man.

  • January 4, 2011 7:58pm

    David, you said it all, merci!

    I was converted to white wine with cheese by a wine professional a few years ago.

    Your case of Sauvignon Blanc will be waiting for you when you get back from Mexico.

    Bonne bonne année,


  • January 4, 2011 8:14pm

    I am convinced! And impressed that you can hold your own with a French waiter :)
    Now I must make a white wine stop on the way back from my cheese run to Murray’s!

  • January 4, 2011 8:46pm

    I’m a huge fan of cheese but have never really been much of a wine drinker and find that I prefer whites over reds, especially when paired with most of the cheeses I like. Thank you for giving me pairing ideas that I can try to help further my wine education.

    Lovely post as always. Bonne Annee!

  • January 4, 2011 10:31pm

    Interesting article. I never would have thought to pair white wines with any cheese other than pouring a bottle into a fondue pot! I’ll definitely have to try some of these pairing ideas. Thanks for the tip.


  • Sonja
    January 4, 2011 10:43pm

    what woukld you recommend with a robiola? i got some for our new years eve party, but it was so stinky, only one person ate a bite & then i had to throw it out. it looked really good & i was sorry to throw it away.

  • January 4, 2011 11:56pm

    I know it’s polarizing, but I like Merlot/Cab/Bordeaux with blue cheeses. And David, I even have Cab paired with a bresaola-laced grilled cheese sandwich in my book (100 Perfect Pairings)! But I agree that white wine covers more of the bases when it comes to cheese. More than anything, I think that the best pairing is whatever cheese and whatever wine is in front of me. :)

  • John Newton
    January 5, 2011 12:06am

    Rules are made to be broken old son – try mashing Cabrales – a monster of a blue – with a good splash of a tempranillo from Rioja – Maravilloso

  • January 5, 2011 1:08am

    I love white wines as long as they do not pretend to be red wines. To me white wines need to be refreshing and not too alcoholic. Now one can find on the shelves 14% whites! and whites tend to be more acid then reds. When eating cheese I like to drink Orvieto, Lacryma Christi or Est Est Est but the best wine to me is a good Prosecco di Valdobbiadene/Conegliano (or even better a good bottle of Champagne!)
    Great Post David

  • January 5, 2011 1:29am

    I’m having a fondue and wine party later this month, and while I’ll be serving both red and white wine, I myself will be drinking white. Here here!

  • agnès
    January 5, 2011 2:02am

    I totally agree with you! Red wines most of the time can kill a nice cheese… But as for the Champagne (and that’s because I’m champenoise!), it shouldn’t have to go with anything! It’s just perfect as it is… (but I recently had champagne with falafel and it was perfect!)

  • January 5, 2011 3:42am

    holy geez, all these pictures of cheese are driving me to the brink. especially that last one, where it pools out so sweetly. thank you for these.

  • January 5, 2011 7:19am

    Good advice. I like the thinking involved here, but I always thought the cheese helped clean the purple color from your teeth. With white, there’s no worries! :)

  • January 5, 2011 9:04am

    Yes! Thank you, David. I totally agree. And am equally weary of some of these stodgy old rules about wine pairing!

  • Monika
    January 5, 2011 11:48am

    I’m a white lover myself and you’re spot on about the waking up the next morning and ofcourse the wine pairing.

  • JenniferB
    January 5, 2011 12:12pm

    Very interesting discussion! At my last lunch with friends we talked about this. I guess some rules are held to make life easier for those unable to confidently pair all those diverse flavours. There are lesser known sweet French wines such as Jurançon and Loupiac that are also great.

    I will never forget a Swiss white wine, ‘fondant’ I think it was called – almost buttery and with tiny bubbles. And I’m dying to try ‘ice wine’, with or without cheese, made from late-ripening white grapes that have been frozen by the first frosts, said to be the ultimate in dessert wine but very, very expensive, even more than a good vin jaune.

  • January 5, 2011 5:37pm

    Thanks David Lebovitz. It’s 9:35 in the morning, I’m at work and now I have a craving for wine because of your well written post and gorgeous pictures. Does your theory also apply to Franzia and Kraft? :)

  • January 5, 2011 5:45pm

    Haha! Only a French waiter could get away with using a world like ‘obligatoire’ for a wine and cheese pairing! My parents have always been firmly in the red wine and cheese camp, and only recently, as I approch my 30s and feel it’s time to gain my own wine sense, have been breaking away. But I’m loving goat cheese with Sancerre and I’m excited to try your musty blue and Reisling combo. Andy more beer and cheese pairing ideas? Would love your thoughts on that!

  • January 5, 2011 6:50pm

    It’s funny that you mentioned the comte cheese. When we were in Paris this summer, per your suggestion, we bought a healthy slice of comte from La Fermette and then walked down the Rue Montorgueil looking for a bottle of wine. We chose a Perrin & Fils muscat (for no reason other than we were familiar with Perrin & Fils and it was too warm out to drink a red) and the pairing ended up being amazing.

    FWIW, I’d rather be a reverse snob than an outright snob.

  • January 5, 2011 11:34pm
    David Lebovitz

    Sonja: I’m not familiar with that cheese but if it’s incredibly pungent, you might try pairing it with beer, like some of the more powerful French cheeses that come from the North, near Belgium.

    Stephanie: Isn’t La Fermette the best? I love their Comté.

  • January 6, 2011 12:12am

    You are oh so right about “if it grows together it goes together”! The place to start with any pairing is local. However, I have found here in France that this ‘Un bon vin rouge is the only option to pair with any cheese’ mentality pretty ingrained and not only sad, downright boring.

    White wines, red wines beers, teas and other alcohols all have potential and provide some amazing/interesting/great and yes sometimes not so great combinations. Like any edible product, flavour, aroma and texture should be considered when pairing, then an expanding of ones palettes from there. It is a matter of chemistry as well as personal taste.

    P.S. Loved your Comté pieces and am jealously guarding a final piece of a crunchy, nutty 36 month old in my vegetable drawer.

  • I am with you on the white wine with cheese. Much nicer.

  • January 6, 2011 6:50am

    Oh my God how divine is that last cheese.

    It’s nice to meet another white wine lover. Everyone around me drinks red. Which is good as I don’t have to share.

  • January 6, 2011 7:34am

    Thank you for championing white wine! I’m no wine aficionado but I get so annoyed when people undervalue white wine.

  • Lauren
    January 6, 2011 4:44pm

    David, I’m a New Yorker living in Toulouse for the year and I’m intrigued by your recommendation of French whites. Like others have mentioned, my issue with whites in general is that the good ones are out of my price range (I’m not a student, but I’m living on a student budget). Would you be able to recommend an inexpensive French white that I could find at the supermarket (and perhaps a cheese to go with it)? I’m eager to try out your pairings…Thanks!

  • January 6, 2011 5:27pm

    It was the best. We were so happy for your recommendation!

  • Ginevra
    January 7, 2011 3:47am

    First time reading your blog and I’m SOLD! I also am a white-wine with cheese drinker, but it started after my first trip to Pain Vin Fromage (near metro Rambuteau)
    — the waiters insisted that we order white wine with our cheese platters. and it was amazing :)

  • January 7, 2011 11:49am

    I just read that, and it reminded me your post:

    Tim Burton on cheese with white wine



    Flavia (from São Paulo, Brazil)

  • January 8, 2011 12:22am

    Hear, hear! Quite often, I tell customers in the wine shop where I work a shortened version of what you so eloquently wrote.

    And I think it’s pretty telling that surrounded by a group of retail wine professionals, most of them male, many of them with such manly pursuits as tailgating at SF Giants or Oakland Raiders games, playing golf, and pontificating on the virtues of a properly aged Bordeaux (for the record, this man rarely if ever engages in such activities!) I have learned that most of them drink white wine more often than red. For me, probably at least 80% white/fino sherry/sparkling (roughly in that order) and MAYBE 20% red.

    Cheers, and thanks for the post,

  • Anna
    January 8, 2011 7:36am

    I’ve recently started reading your blog and I absolutely love it (I placed the site under a folder with all my other favorite blogs). But this remark about how white goes better with cheese and overall liking it better than red…. I seriously thought I was the only one! I love white wine, I always order white wine regardless of the meal I get. I just find it a lighter, finer taste than reds. Thank you for writing this post. I feel much better now that I am not the only one in the world who’s crazy enough to like white more than red. :)

  • January 8, 2011 7:46am

    Some weeks ago I experienced firsthand the art of making wine and the interesting procedures for making cheese….a person really can’t come away from that without a greater appreciation for wine and cheese

  • January 8, 2011 1:05pm

    David, I totally agree with you than some cheeses go better with White wine, however, I am more and more a cheese and beer kinda-guy. So many other flavours are awaken when you go for this pairings. Red is good with Alpine cheeses, but then again you could go for sweet dessert whites and keep on topic.

    Cheers on another good cheese post.

  • Kathy
    January 8, 2011 9:20pm

    I quiet agree, and I used to be predominately a red wine drinker. My taste has changed as my cooking and eat preferences have changed and white wines are my first choice often. Having said that, the California reds that I used to love have gone “hot” from the exceptionally high alcohol which overpowers any fruitiness or other nuances. Those should be classified as fortified wines! What happened to the reds in the 12% range. I’m hardpressed to find a red under 13.5% and many are over 14.5%. This unfortunate trend, I have to believe, is influence by Robert Parker ratings. As the percentage goes up so seems the direction of the ratings. Too bad. At least there are plenty of tasty white wines.

  • January 9, 2011 2:30am

    People are quick to dismiss white wine, especially Wine People. I’ve developed an appreciation for both, but I find that I gravitate towards white wines more often than red. There’s a subtlety in white wines that’s not found in many reds (especially American reds) – which can beat you over the head. I, too, feel better after drinking white wine.
    Cheers to the whites!

  • Peggy
    January 11, 2011 7:54am

    Reminds me of my time living in Geneva. When ordering fondue there it was obligatory to drink white wine, lest one get “cheese balls” in the stomach. Waiters wouldn’t even let us order anything different! Too funny!

  • January 11, 2011 2:55pm
    David Lebovitz

    Peggy: That is funny. I’ve been told in France that drinking iced drinks will “freeze your stomach.” I’m sure a few physiologists might disagree. Those “cheese balls” sound equally scary! : )

  • Alex
    January 12, 2011 3:35pm

    Is that honey you’ve got slathered on your chevre David? Good idea if it is.

  • Jen-
    January 13, 2011 7:46am

    In fact, just before coming to visit you my dear, I just finished a bottle of Chardonnay with my swiss and crackers. Delicious!

  • January 16, 2011 1:24am

    Undoubtedly: the white wine with the cheese! I offended my friends sensibility when I brought for the 1st time a bottle of Pinot gris to drink with cheese. Now, when I’ve a lunch, they know! ;)

  • Dana
    January 16, 2011 5:08am

    I just have to say that those are really wonderful pictures of some of my favourite food and beverage! Beautiful!

  • Ardi
    January 17, 2011 11:03pm

    I prefer white wines for the same reasons you mention. What do you do when you’re at a restaurant in Paris and order food that is traditionally paired with red wine (but would prefer to drink white)? If you ask for a recommendation for a white wine, will a waiter suggest an acceptable white wine, or will they insist that you drink a red?

  • January 17, 2011 11:10pm
    David Lebovitz

    Ardi: I’ve not had a waiter question me when ordering wine in Paris. They might raise an eyebrow if you pick something very unusual as a pairing, but it’s never been a problem. Depending on the restaurant in Paris, some of the waiters don’t know that much about wine as one might think. (Just because someone is French doesn’t mean they’re knowledgeable, or not knowledgeable, about wine). It all just depends on the restaurant and/or server.

  • January 19, 2011 11:30pm

    Such a refreshing read. I’ve always been a fan of the white wine pairing, especially with cheese, when the rest of the world tends to pair red. Especially when white wine is served at the correct temperature (i.e. not too cold as in most restaurants in the states), the nuances really complement and enhance various cheese selections. White wine and cheese, a perfect starter, entrée and dessert. Fantastic post, as per usual.