When it comes to wine and food, there are few pairings as classic as wine and cheese. Oregon is abundant with both, which means the opportunity is ripe to bring them together. There are more than 100 varieties of wine grapes grown across Oregon’s 23 AVAs and the state is also home to numerous cheesemakers, from the iconic Tillamook Creamery to nano mom and pop operations. This means that there are seemingly endless ways to pair wine and cheese while experiencing our state’s rich bounty. To help guide your journey through Oregon’s wine and cheese, author and cheesemonger Steve Jones has shared his expert pairings. To keep things simple, he selected a wine style and cheese representative or coming from each of Oregon’s six major wine regions.
The wine: A medium bodied Pinot noir
The cheese: Briar Rose Creamery – Maia – Dundee, Oregon
A soft and creamy washed rind cow’s milk cheese with some sweet and yeasty notes.
Pairing notes: The weight of both the wine and the cheese are similar and provide a balanced marriage of the two. Imagine fresh baked bread and fruit compote!
Can’t find this cheese? Try these: Young Taleggio, Teleme, Quadrilla di Bufula
The wine: A dry Chenin Blanc
The cheese: Helvetia Creamery – Bergkase – Helvetia, Oregon
This firm nutty cheeses done in the style made popular in the Alps and shows notes of brown butter, broth, and hazelnuts (known as Filberts in Oregon).
Pairing notes: The floral aromatics and honeycomb notes in the wine are a pleasant contrast to the savory flavors in the cheese.
Can’t find this cheese? Try these: Gruyere, Comte, Appenberger
The wine: A sparkling Rosè
The cheese: Portland Creamery – Fresh Chèvre – Mollala, Oregon
Classic French style fresh goat cheese, tangy, lactic, and creamy.
Pairing notes: The effervescence of the wine washes the pallet clean between bites of lemony chèvre and bright minerally bubbles for a fantastic pairing to come back to time and again!
Can’t find this cheese? Try these: Fromage Blanc, Fresh Brebis
Walla Walla Valley
The wine: A big Syrah
The cheese: Umapine Creamery – Smoked Gouda – Milton-Freewater, Oregon
A young smoked Gouda with a rich mouth-coating texture.
Pairing notes: Playing off of the smoke and fat in the cheese and the lean tannic minerality of the wine, this comes together in a classic combo similar to grilled meat and juicy red wine.
Can’t find this cheese? Try these: Smoked Cheddar, Idiazabal
The wine: A rich Viognier
The cheese: Face Rock Creamery – Face to Face Cheddar – Bandon, Oregon
This Cheddar is a seasonally produced sheep and cow’s milk blend (done in both clothbound and unrinded versions).
Pairing notes: This blend brings a real complexity to the table. The wine’s texture and tropical fruit notes are the perfect mirror for the cheese and its many layers of flavor.
Can’t find this cheese? Try these: Gabiotu, Melange
The wine: A nice thick Port-style wine
The cheese: Rogue Creamery – Cave Man Blue – Central Point, Oregon
Natural-rinded cow’s milk blue
Pairing notes: This cheese has the ideal mix of sharp acidity, funk, and salt to perfectly contrast the sweet, thick, booziness of the Port and serve as the unforgettable finale to any meal or cheese pairing!
Can’t find this cheese? Try these: Maytag, Forum d ‘Ambert