For many the final course of Christmas dinner is a cheese board that promises indulgence in the form of delicious cheeses and tasty tipples, usually wine.

If you need help figuring out which cheeses go with wine, you’re not the only one. Google searches for cheese and wine have risen by 172% from the start of November meaning people are actively researching cheese and wine pairings.

There are hundreds of wines and cheeses on the market with thousands more permutations. It can therefore be very hard to understand which cheeses pair well with which wines.

To get the most out of your cheese board and make the flavours from the cheese shine, some wines are recommended to drink alongside certain cheeses.

The main drink usually served with a cheese board is a medium bodied red wine, which broadly covers cheeses on your board.

However some recommend pairing wine and cheese that are equally as intense as each other. You can find this by looking for the alcohol of the wine by volume percentage (ABV).

As a rule of thumb, wines over 14.5% ABV pair well with strong cheeses and brie. Wines that are 12% ABV or lower, go well with cheeses that have a more subtle flavour profile such as mild Cheddar and new cheeses that haven’t had time to ripen.

A woman with dark polished nails holds a glass of red wine with a cheese board in the background
A glass of red wine is a popular choice when serving a cheese board

Here’s the perfect cheese and drink pairing list

Peter Allen, Retail Manager from Weavers, an independent wine and spirit merchant in Nottingham said: “There will be classic pairings such as Sancerre with goats cheese. Try a Sauvignon Blanc whose acidity will cut through the soft fresh goats cheese.”

Other drinks that go really well with cheese are sherries, ports, apéritifs and light brandies.

Peter said: “An aged Comté of 36 months goes really well with a fino sherry such as Vin Jaune. When eaten with walnuts, which is a regional specialty in Jura, the tart, yeasty notes of the Vin Jaune really bring out the flavours of the walnuts.

“When matching a port with cheese, choose a tawny port. This has been aged in the barrel so it’s softer, lighter and can be matched with a range of broader cheeses. Late Bottled Vintaged Port (LBV) or Ruby Port might be too full bodied.”

Pineau des Charentes is a blend of unfermented grape juice (grape must) and Cognac eau-de-vie. Legend has it that this tasty tipple was accidentally made by a winemaker who added grape must to a barrel that he believed was empty but in fact contained eau-de-vie.

Peter said: “You very rarely see a sweet wine served with a cheese board, which is a shame as they make a great pairing with most cheeses.

“Pineau des Charentes is a sweet, light apéritif with a brandy base. It goes really well with blue cheese.

“Sweet wines are usually massively overlooked as most people play it safe. So people will normally pair a Stilton with a full bodied red.

“However, a blue cheese served with a sweet dessert wine such as Sauternes is a nice twist to the usual cheese board.”

For a showstopper cheese and drink pairing, Peter recommends serving Langres, a washed-rind cheese from the region of Champagne-Ardenne with Champagne.

Peter said: “It’s something of a showstopper and good for parties. Get the cheese and gently pour Champagne over it. Delighted guests will enjoy watching the bubbles create a mini volcano effect on top of the cheese.”

It’s a small cheese but packs a potent punch with a unique structure of dimpled top. It’s almost as if the dipped concave crown was made specifically for serving with a pour-over splash of Champagne.

If you really want to be experimental, serve a cocktail alongside your cheese board. Pairing cocktails with cheese is playful and a move away from the traditional and towards the more contemporary.

Peter said: “Cocktails and cheese are not seen often, but a brandy-based cocktail such as a Sidecar would work well with an aged hard cheese such as Comté.”

The Demi Cortado is a brandy based cocktail garnished with cheese and smoked almonds
The Demi Cortado is a masterpiece cheese-cocktail creation of Bar Manager-Sommelier Ed Belshaw from World Service Restaurant Nottingham

Cheese and cocktails might not seem an obvious choice but even fine dining restaurants are choosing to mix it up. Critically acclaimed eatery and holder of 2 AA Rosettes, World Service Restaurant in Nottingham served a cheese cocktail concoction which was a massive hit on their cocktail menu.

It was a creation of Ed Belshaw, Bar Manager-Sommelier who came up with The Demi Cortado Cocktail.

Ed said: “I was inspired by a gorgeous bottle of Champagne which had cured notes and flavours reminiscent of Spanish ingredients and marmalade.

“I created The Demi Cortado which is a take on an old vintage Dom Pérignon Oenothèque Brut Champagne 1962.

“The base of The Demi Cortado is of Spanish brandy fat-washed with Ibérico Bellota Ham sourced from our sister restaurant Ibérico World Tapas. I then added Spanish vermouth, Palo Cortado Sherry and topped with Cava.

“The garnish was Manchego, honey, smoked almonds, and membrillo (sweet quince paste) on a chorizo crisp.”

Experts in luxury food and gift hampers Cartwright and Butler share more delicious cheese and wine pairings which can be found here.

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