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What Wine Goes with Stinky Cheese?

Three types of stinky French cheeses stand in a row next to thin breadsticks
I’m planning a “Stinky Cheese Only” party with several washed rinds, such as Limburger, and I’m wondering, what wine should I serve?
When pairing stinky cheese, I like to go with off-dry white wines with some richness. For instance, Alsatian gewürztraminer is a classic accompaniment to Muenster, which is a traditional washed-rind cow’s milk cheese from the same region. It works because the richness of the wine matches that of the cheese. The wine’s slight sweetness offsets any bitterness in the cheese’s rind and balances the assertiveness of its flavor. For the same reasons, I like a good Vouvray or an off-dry American chenin blanc with washed rinds. Rieslings can work, but not as successfully because of their lighter-bodied style.

When choosing a red wine, look for something with lots of ripe fruit and body but not-so-aggressive tannins. I often go with either Australian Shiraz, especially from South Australia’s Barossa Valley, a jammy zinfandel, or a fruit-driven Grenache. Sweet dessert wines are also a good bet. Most sommeliers know that just about any dessert wine will do well with a broad range of cheeses. For an amazing experience try a late-harvest Condrieu or Quarts de Chaume with your stinky. And for those that prefer beer, look to your Trappist-style triples and quads. The cheeses made by the Trappist monks have always been washed rinds, and their beers go together with them perfectly. There is a reason the monks love the funk!

Feature Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Jeffrey DiMaio

Jeffrey DiMaio, CCP, CSW is the manager at Mazzaro’s Italian Market, in St. Petersburg, Florida, and among the first group of individuals to pass the inaugural Certified Cheese Professional Exam, given last August. DiMaio holds equivalent certifications in wine and beer.