Wine and Soft-Ripened Cheeses

Do you like Brie cheese? It’s soft, smooth and a little funky. Join us as we share all kinds of soft, funky and usually round cheeses.

How many soft cheeses have you tried? Did you know that soft-ripened cheeses can be broken down between bloomy rind and washed rind cheeses? Once we started researching our cheeses for this article, we found out that most of the cheeses we tasted fell into the bloomy rind category while two of the cheeses were of the washed rind type. The easiest way to identify a bloomy rind is by the thin white or cream-colored, edible rind that surrounds the cheese. Washed rind cheeses typically are submerged in or washed using a liquid and have a red or orange color. During the cheese making process, a mold is added to help it ripen from the outside in, producing those delicious soft centers.

From our first soft-ripened cheese tasting back in 2013, when we ate the entire wedge of brie without even thinking about it, we knew we liked this type of cheese! If you search for what wines to pair with soft-ripened cheeses, you’ll find suggestions of acidic, light to medium red wines. No wonder we paired them with Pinot Noir so many times. We’ve also enjoyed pairing these cheeses with Chardonnay and Sparkling White wines. Whatever your preference, don’t be discouraged by the stink coming off the cheese, we find that the stinkier the better.

See the snippets below for some of our favorite Wine and Soft-Ripened Cheese Pairings:

Kendall Jackson Chardonnay and Notre Dame French Brie

Is Kendall Jackson Chardonnay one of your favorite wines? There’s quite a fan club out there for this wine. This entry features one of it’s members – It is one of our “intro to wine tastings” entries, with a few relatives. We love waiting to see if it just “tastes like wine” or if they can find distinct flavors. This coincidentally ended up being a buttery wine with a buttery cheese. Do you think that would make for a good pairing? Read the full entry to find out what we thought.

Petit Reserve Merlot and Mt. Tam

Have you ever tried Cowgirl Creamery cheeses? This cheese is named after a local mountain in California and fits wonderfully into our bloomy rind cheese category. The wine, Petit Reserve Merlot, caused us to research the varietal because we wondered if there were a petit merlot grape. There is not; it’s just the line of Trader Joe’s wines that we tasted that day. During the pairing, a flavor of smoke came out of nowhere for me. To see the entire set of tasting notes, click here.

Pinot-Vember, Pinot Noir and Camembert

Pinot Noir usually pairs really well with a funky soft cheese. Remember, the research we did suggested a light red wine that’s acidic. This was part of our Pinot-Vember series that featured 5 weeks of Pinot Noir pairings during the month of November. It’s not the only soft-ripened cheese in the set but it was our favorite Pinot-Vember pairing. Would you like to read more about this slippery soft-ripened cheese? Here’s the complete entry.

Pinot Noir and Pont L’eveque

This was probably one of our funkiest cheeses ever. We just sort of stumbled upon this cheese since we couldn’t find the one we were looking for. We were really new to cheese during this older entry so we couldn’t really appreciate a stinky cheese yet. The Castle Rock wine is a brand that is pretty well distributed so you may have tried it before, if not keep your eye out next time you are in the wine aisle. To read the entire entry, click here.

Pinot Noir and Jasper Hill Harbison

The Jasper Hill Harbison is a distinct cheese with a noticeably oozing center. We had a taste of it during a trip to our local co-op market and thought it would be great to enjoy with wine. Many cheeses can be enjoyed even more if you take them out of the fridge about an hour before tasting. Keep this in mind during your next wine and cheese pairing. Upon first sniff, the cheese smelled like garbage. Want more details, read the full entry on our website.

Hawley Pinot Noir and Red Hawk

Although we had tried a washed rind cheese once before, we loved learning the story about the Red Hawk cheese by Cowgirl Creamery. The Red Hawk cheese was discovered by mistake when producing the Mt. Tam cheese.  A mold grew on the outside and after it was washed with saline the rind turned pink. The reason a mold grew on the rind was due to a specific bacteria found in their seaside air. Not only does this entry feature such a cool cheese but it also has a wine that can no longer be produced since they removed the Pinot Noir plants from the vineyard. Interested in learning about this special wine and cheese, here’s the entry.

Mumm Sparkling Cuvee and Mushroom Triple Cream

Have you ever tried a cheese with mushrooms in it? We found they add an earthiness to this soft-ripened cheese. The wine by Mumm Winery in Napa Valley is prepared using the Methode Traditionnelle developed in the Champagne region of France. When the two were paired, Neil found a zing of mushroom and less bite in the wine. Sparkling wine can have quite a range of flavors, and to see how this wine tasted, read the entire entry here.

Blanc de Blancs Sparking wine and St. Andre cheese

When I researched the St Andre cheese I found out it is a specific type of triple cream cheese that tastes like an intense version of Brie. Then we tasted it and thought it was actually quite mild. The wine, from our favorite place, Trader Joe’s, was a bargain at $4.50. Interested in this wine to see if you should pick up a bottle on your next trip to TJ’s? Here’s the complete set of tasting notes.

P.S. Did you know that sparkling wines can usually cut through the fat of cheese? This was a great example!

Thanks to Avina Wine Tools for suggesting we create this wine and soft-ripened cheese entry. It was not only fun but a great way to showcase one of our favorite types of cheese. Interested in seeing some of our other entries? We’ve been writing WineAndCheeseFriday for over 3 years so there’s all other types of cheeses (and wines) to read about!

Why not enjoy wine and cheese with friends? Never mix-up glasses again with these handy wine glass marker charms and bottle stopper.

About the Author: With almost five years in the wine industry, Maria’s love of wine has grown. She has held many jobs, considering herself a jack of all trades, but recently realized her passion is education, learning and teaching. She began in the wine industry when she determined that her previous jobs were preparing her for a job at a winery.

Maria has developed a wine and cheese pairing website, WineAndCheeseFriday. As a great way to become more familiar with California wines, as well as taste some of the local cheeses.

You can follow Maria on Twitter here and Facebook here.

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