Pair Me Up! A Matchmaker’s Guide to Cheese + Pairings

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This blog post is brought to you by curdbox, our monthly cheese + pairing subscription service. Want to join our merry band of cheese lovers? Head on over to our subscription page to sign up for your monthly box!

As an organizer, I love a good categorical system. Nerdy? Yes… But oh so satisfying! At curdbox we aim to break down the barriers between good people & good cheese so we’ve translated all that fancy “cheese speak” into our own language.

And as for pairings, well you know we love them! We think pairings make cheese just that much more fun and tasty. You’ll recognize the flavor profiles that we use—no need to reinvent the wheel here! In each curdbox, all of the cheeses go with all of the pairings. We’ve built it that way on purpose so that you’re free to explore and have fun with it. There are no wrong choices!

Here are the cheese categories you’ll find in your curdbox & at our store curds & co, along with the flavor profiles that you’ll find in various combinations in each box

The Cheese Categories


Milky & Mild

aka Whey cheese; The most frugal of all, this cheese is created by pulling the last of the remaining protein out of the whey left from other cheesemaking (often mozzarella). The result is a fresh cheese with small curds that can be transformed into savory or sweet dishes.

Tasting notes: mellow to tangy, smooth to chunky

Examples: ricotta

Stretchy & Chewy

aka Pasta Filata; This cheese surely feels manipulated more than the rest, because it is. After cutting it into curds, it is drained and then warmed up in liquid and stretched a little like taffy giving it a perfect texture for melting or pulling apart.

Tasting notes: fresh to milky, smooth to chewy

Examples: Mozzarella, Provolone

Bright & Fresh

aka Fresh; Cheese best eaten right away to enjoy the fresh quality—the perfect cheese for the impatient cheese lover. These cheeses have no rind and can be bright, lemony, and refreshing.

Tasting notes: lemony to salty, smooth to crumbly

Examples: feta, chevre

Bloomy & Brainy

aka soft-ripened; A soft cheese that ripens from the outside in under a brie-like bloomy rind or a wrinkled-brainy rind. Just inside the rind you will likely find a “cream” line that will gradually ripen the whole body of the cheese (paste) for a warm mushroomy or a tangy yogurt-like taste. 

Tasting notes: tangy to mushroomy, creamy to dense

Examples: brie, camembert

Friendly & Flexible

aka Pressed; The staple cheese category for many. A huge category that includes crumbly English cheddar and great Goudas. If you need a cheese for a sandwich, you can't go wrong here.

Tasting notes: subtle to sharp, creamy to salty

Examples: gouda, cheddar

Smooth & Melty

aka Pressed, Cooked; Includes cheese traditionally made in the Alps that is cooked before being pressed into its shape, making it perfect for melting in fondue with flavor ranges from nutty to caramelized onion.

Tasting notes: grassy to nutty, supple to hard

Examples: gruyere, parmigiano

Creamy & Funky

aka Washed-rind; Creamy cheeses with a rind that is washed with brine or potent potables. The rind is funky or stinky and the body of the cheese (paste) can range from spreadable to dippable and have a savory umami flavor.

Tasting notes: funky to meaty, supple to runny

Examples: taleggio, muenster

Bold & Blue

Whether bold in flavor or just bold in look, this cheese is polarizing. Its salty creaminess can be the highlight of a dessert plate or the star on a juicy burger. Some people hate it which makes blue fans happy that they don’t have to share.

Tasting notes: sweet to piquant, creamy to crumbly

Examples: roquefort, stilton

The Pairing Flavor Profiles


Examples: honey, caramel, maple, cookies, chocolate

Pairs best with: milky & mild, bright & fresh, bloomy & brainy, friendly & flexible, smooth & melty, bold & blue


Examples: chips, salt, pretzels, crackers

Pairs best with: All cheeses!


Examples: chili, buffalo sauce, sriracha, garlic, curry

Pairs best with: milky & mild, stretchy & chewy, friendly & flexible, smooth & melty, creamy & funky, bold & blue


Examples: pickles, olives, capers, tapenade, vinegar

Pairs best with: milky & mild, friendly & flexible, smooth & melty, creamy & funky


Examples: pistachio, walnut, almond, peanut, cashew

Pairs best with: milky & mild, friendly & flexible, smooth & melty, bold & blue


Examples: garlic, smoke, herbs, onion, meat

Paris best with: milky & mild, stretchy & chewy, friendly & flexible, smooth & melty, creamy & funky

So, there you have it. Go forth and pair 'em up!

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