Wine, Meet Cheese

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Curdbox is 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! 

Maybe you missed it, but we recently partnered with The Italian Selection to offer wine bundles to go along with curdbox! As we embark on our wine partner journey, we will share some tidbits about how to pair wine and cheese along the way. If you want to drink along, you can buy 3- or 6-month bottles along with a curdbox gift subscription on our product page. Or, if you have a subscription already, you can add it on by emailing us with your request at Let's cheers to that!

Cheers to our wine partnership with The Italian Selection! 

The Italian Selection sources high-quality wines from small, family-owned wineries in Italy, and all the wines we have chosen from to be in our wine bundles are food-friendly, that is to say: curdbox friendly. Don’t really know what that means? Read on as we give you the skinny on pairing cheese + wine.

Wine + Cheese: A Choose Your Own Adventure

Pairing wine and cheese can be intimidating, and many a person has fallen down a rabbit hole of specific cheeses and specific bottles in search of the perfect pairing (they’re still down there). But, you can also just rely on a few basic principles to get you going on your journey, without burrowing too deep. Remember, the most important principle is to have fun exploring—don’t be afraid to try different combinations and learn what you do and don’t like. If you paired a wine and cheese and it didn’t go well together, don’t think of it as a loss—instead, think of it as having learned what you don’t like. Even better is if it causes you to taste your cheese and wine more carefully and pick apart why they didn’t work for you. Paying attention in this way moves you along the path to finding cheese + wine bliss. However, so that you don’t have to start with a completely blank slate, we’ll give you some starting points to send you on your merry cheese and wine way.

Is there anything more beautiful than wine and cheese? 

Cheeses Have Pairing Personalities

Here’s the thing: there are some cheeses that are just easier to pair with, and others that are a little pickier about who they get along with (just like people!). If you’ve been with curdbox a while, or even if you’re just an experienced cheese eater, you’ll know that some cheeses may play backup to star pairing, or will harmonize beautifully with a certain pairing. But, there are other cheeses that demand the spotlight (we’re looking at you, funky ones). So, it’s important to know what kind of personality your cheese has.

People-Pleaser Cheeses

Harder, aged cheeses, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, aged cheddar, and aged gouda are your easy-going cheeses—they go great with most white wines, and their fat and salt can stand up to more tannic, full-bodied red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Sangiovese. In curdbox lingo, these would be the friendly&flexible and smooth&melty cheese types pairing with your bold reds. If you’re new and nervous, these cheeses have got your back.

Three people-pleasing cheeses from our July 2020 Fruitful box: Mimolette, Fourmage, and Smoked Idiázabal

Diva Cheeses

Other cheeses, like blue cheeses and funky washed rind cheeses, are a little more forceful in their personalities, and more care needs to be taken in selecting a wine that’ll get along. So, where to start? If you already know a cheese and food pairing you like, you’re part way there to finding a cheese and wine pairing. For example, ever heard of the classic pairing of Roquefort + honey? Sweet wine, especially a Sauternes or Tokaj, is like the wine-version of honey, so you’d be right to guess that it goes great with blue cheese. To generalize that specific example, if you’ve got a bold&blue on your hands, dessert wines are a sure bet.

Wine pairing inspo: Old Chatham's Boujee Bleu and Mike's Hot Honey was amazing, so why not try another blue with a Sauternes or Tokaji?

The creamy&funky cheeses are where you find your real diva cheeses—the ones you can smell in the next room over— such as Taleggio, Vacherin Mont D’Or, or Époisses. (Don't know how to spot them? Look for the telltale red-ish rind, see below). For these ones, it’s best to let them gracefully take center stage, and get a wine that can play more of a supporting role, such as a light bodied whites or reds (think Riesling or Pinot Noir).

French Époisses: a total diva when it comes to pairing

But wait—how do you know which wines are the easy-to-pair ones? We’re so glad you asked. 

Wines Also Have Personalities

Just like cheeses, some wines are easier to pair with than others, and it generally comes down to their structure. The “structure” of a wine is the balance of the five principal components of wine: acidity, sweetness, alcohol, tannin, and body. Don’t worry, we’re not going to dig into the nitty gritty here, but we will point out two important components to take into consideration. 

Pucker Up

The first one is acidity—acidity makes food taste brighter and better (think of that final squeeze of lemon on a dish just before you take a bite). So, it’s just a small step to understand that acidity in wine would help it pair with foods (including cheese) too. If you’re looking for a high acid wine, then you can feel confident reaching for a sparkling wine. Their acidity and palate-cleansing bubbles mean they pair well with a variety of cheeses, from your chèvres to your triple creams to your blues. We think we could all use more reasons to open a bottle of bubbly, and now you have one: cheese. (For other high acid wines, keep reading—there's more in the Food-Friendly wine section below.)

A sparkling rosé—an excellent choice for cheese

Mind Your Tannins

The second component we want to point out is tannins. Whereas acidity makes a wine easier to get along with, tannins are the opposite, and can totally dominate an unsuspecting cheese and mask its deliciousness. What is a tannin, you ask? It’s just a molecule (found in red wine, but also in other places, such as coffee and tea), and it binds to fat and protein. In fact, the reason you get that weird sandpapery dry mouth feeling after drinking a red wine is that the tannins are actually binding to the proteins in your mouth (don’t worry, they eventually let go). Because cheese also has protein and fat, tannins will bind to these as well, and thus affect the success of the pairing. High-tannin red wines wreak havoc on the delicate flavors and creaminess of softer cheeses, such as those in our bloomy&brainy category (Brie, Camembert, etc.), so steer clear of pairing these two types together. But, as we mentioned above, harder aged cheeses can handle those tannins, and so those are the ones to turn to if you want to serve something like Cabernet Sauvignon.

Beware the tannins lurking in the inky depths of your wine glass...they don't always play nice 

Food-Friendly Wines

OK, so the sum-up: some cheeses are easier to pair, some are harder, acid in wine helps pairing, and tannins can make it tougher. What if you don’t feel like thinking too hard and just want something that will reliably pair? Well then give a warm welcome to your new favorite category of wine: the food-friendly wines. They are a pretty safe bet for a wide variety of dishes, so you don’t need to add wine-pairing stress on top of your cooking stress.

And hey, wouldn’t you know it, but Italy happens to be a goldmine for food-friendly wines. This makes sense, as their wine tradition co-evolved with their cooking tradition (I mean, Italian food—maybe you’ve heard of it?) and many of their native grape varieties have the acidity that’s a hallmark of a versatile food wine. It’s one of the reasons we’re thrilled to have partnered with the Italian Selection, who have curated an incredible selection of DOC/DOCG wines from all over Italy

Food-Friendly White Wines

For whites, food-friendly wines should generally have medium to high acidity and be unoaked and dry to off-dry (i.e. not sweet at all or have a little sweetness), with light to medium body and medium alcohol. Here are some classics in that category: 

  • Prosecco (or any sparkling wine)
  • Chablis
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Grüner Veltliner
  • Riesling

May we also point you this selection of lesser-known Italian varietals carried by The Italian Selection:

  • Falanghina, a beautiful high-acid, floral varietal from Campania
  • Verdicchio, a nutty and peachy varietal from Marche
  • Pinot Grigio, a citrusy and floral varietal from northern Italy 
  • Vermentino, a varietal with honeydew, grapefruit, and floral notes—it’s grown in a few areas in Italy but this one is from Sardinia
  • Grillo, a lemony, apply, mineral-y varietal from Sicily

For sparkling (remember—goes great with everything!), try their Trento DOC from Trento in Northern Italy.

Dreaming back to our California Dreamin' box

Food-Friendly Red Wines

For reds, food-friendly wines should generally have higher acid and be dry (i.e. not sweet) with medium-ish body, medium alcohol, and low to medium tannins. Your typical food-friendly reds would be:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Barbera
  • Beaujolais
  • Syrah
  • Zinfandel

As you might imagine, The Italian Selection carries a wide variety of food-friendly Italian reds from some lesser-known varietals (and some famous ones, too). To point out just a few, we have: 

  • Nerello Mascalese, a varietal with notes of cherry, pomegranate, and minerality from Sicily
  • Cannonau (aka Grenache/Garnacha), a varietal with notes of strawberry, balsamic, and leather, from Sardinia 
  • Aglianico, a varietal with notes of plum, berries, and leather from Campania
  • Sangiovese, aka the king of Tuscany, a varietal with notes of red fruit and earth

If you want to drink-along with curdbox, then again, you can head to our product page and buy a 3- or 6-month gift subscription, or email us at to add on to your existing subscription. You will receive all the wines at once (so, not month-by-month like with our boxes), so you can pick and choose a wine for each month. But, just like curdbox, the specific bottles in our wine bundles are a surprise! 

If we’ve whet your wine appetite sufficiently with our food-friendly picks, you should explore the The Italian Selection—curdbox subscribers get 10% off of their entire order with the discount code CURDBOX10.

So, there’s your first lesson in wine and cheese pairing. And now, your homework: go out there and experiment, and have some fun with it!

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