Great Burgundy wine tastes the way a beautiful hymn sounds. Deep and layered with complexity, it is a philosophical wine at heart. Perhaps this should come as no surprise; today’s Burgundy vineyards bear the fruits of the labors of Benedictine monks who, during the Middle Ages, cultivated the land and established the region’s reputation as a prime source of exemplary wine.
Such a thought-provoking wine requires thoughtful serving. Large glasses, for instance, are strongly recommended as their generous bowls allow the drinker to experience the full range of flavors and aromas these wines offer—notes which may change even as you continue to sip from your glass. Red Burgundy, in particular, is delicate and might not need decanting until you are ready to serve it. And, of course, food pairings with your wine can make or break a transcendental tasting experience.
If, for example, you’re serving charcuterie with your wine—or indulging in a combination wine and cheese tasting party—you’ll need to consider which cheeses will best mirror or complement the flavors in your chosen wine. And while taste is subjective, there are a few basic guidelines for Burgundy wine and cheese pairings you can follow that will rarely lead you astray.
Exquisite Burgundy Wine and Cheese Pairings
Because Burgundy is fairly consistent in terms of the grape varietals used for both red and white wines, some fundamental Burgundy wine and cheese pairings can be identified based on color alone.
|Most top-tier Burgundy wines consist solely of Pinot Noir, which tends to pair best with creamy, mild cheeses such as Abbaye de Belloc, Zamorano, or Brie.
|2016 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin-Clos De Bèze Grand Cru
|Likewise, the majority of quality white Burgundy wines are single-varietal Chardonnays. Therefore, many will pair well with slightly bolder cheeses like Garrotxa, Camembert, Fontina D’Aosta, Comté, or Havarti.
|2014 Domaine Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
Keep in mind that these are rudimentary guidelines only, intended to give those who are relatively new to collecting and enjoying Burgundy wines a clear and simple starting point. There is, however, another important factor in addition to the grape varietal that can significantly impact how well a certain wine will pair with any given cheese.
Considering Terroir When Pairing Cheese with Burgundy Wine
There are few regions where terroir is considered more critical than in Burgundy. Indeed, those same monks that first brought Burgundy to the forefront of winemaking also introduced the industry to the importance of place in terms of taste. While there are far too many unique terroirs within the region to explore each individually—Burgundy is home to as many as 100 of France’s 600 total appellations—becoming familiar with a few of its main subregions can prove helpful in making thoughtful cheese pairing choices.
|Chablis is the northernmost appellation of Burgundy. It exclusively produces Chardonnays that are famous for their crisp, ethereal purity. Chablis Chardonnays are heavenly matches for Comté, Epoisses, Gouda, and goat cheeses.
|2008 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru
|Côte de Nuits
|Côte de Nuits, along with Côte de Beaune, make up the area known as Côte d’Or—the Golden Slope. Côte de Nuits is known for its exceptional Grand Cru red wines, which tend to fare well with cheeses like Epoisses and L’ami de Chambertin.
|2017 Domaine Jacques Prieur Clos De Vougeot Grand Cru
|Côte de Beaune
|Camembert, Brie, Comté, and Gouda go best with the light, floral Grand Cru Chardonnays of Côte de Nuits’s sister appellation, Côte de Beaune.
|2014 Domaine Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
From a legal standpoint, Beaujolais might also be included in the list above since it is technically a subregion of Burgundy. However, from an oenological point of view, Beaujolais wine and Burgundy wine are so dissimilar in terms of taste profile and vinification techniques that they are considered by many to be completely different wines. Beaujolais is youthful and straightforward where a typical Burgundy is anything but, and Beaujolais wine (which is mostly red) is made almost exclusively from Gamay, rather than Pinot Noir, grapes.
Regardless, if you plan to serve Beaujolais wine anytime soon, know that these wines typically pair well with soft to semi-soft creamy French cheeses like Camembert, Brie, Muenster, and Swiss.
The Secret Ingredient for Pairing Any Burgundy Wine and Cheese Well
While these guidelines for Burgundy wine and cheese pairings provide an excellent starting point for your oenological foray into this particular region, keep in mind that taste is incredibly subjective. At the end of the day, there is only one person who can determine what wines and cheeses will pair together most satisfyingly, and that person is you.
Considering tasting notes from professionals with preferences similar to yours can help you identify similar and pleasantly contrasting flavors between different wines and cheeses you have yet to try together. Keeping a record of your own tasting notes, meanwhile, will help you build your own knowledge base and make even more personalized pairing choices in the future.
When you’re ready to buy, consider purchasing multiple bottles at once, as case quantities can often cost less per bottle than buying each individually—and are easier to keep organized in storage.
Finally, if your Burgundy wine needs a bit more time to mature, be sure to invest in professional storage options that will keep your wine in optimal condition—so that you can be confident when the time comes that your drinking experience will be everything it’s meant to be.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.