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A Perfect Pairing From Europe

Your Guide to Garda DOC Wines and Piave DOP Cheese

Garda DOC wines and Piave DOP cheese are a supreme pair, celebrating craft and tradition, as well as unmatched taste and quality. Our guide will help you learn how to pair, serve, and enjoy this handcrafted, delicious cheese and high quality, sparkling wine.

All about Piave DOP cheese

One bite of Piave DOP cheese transports you to a world of time honored, European tradition. Made with pasteurized cow’s milk from the Northern Italian province of Belluno in the Veneto region, Piave DOP cheese reflects the character and terroir of the area with a distinguishable intense yet sweet taste, and a full Alpine floral and herbaceous aroma. The breezy cool summers and snowy winters of the Dolomite Mountains and Piave river are a perfect climate for aging this award-winning cheese. Bruna Italiana, Grigio Alpina, Pezzata Rossa Italiana, and Frisona Italiana cows graze on mountain grasses, supplemented with quality cereals and grains to yield a flavorful cheese that’s versatile and unique. 

There are three types of Piave DOP cheese: Piave DOP Mezzano (aged 2 to 6 months), Piave DOP Vecchio (aged >180 days), and Piave DOP Vecchio Selezione Oro (aged >12 months), each with distinct flavors and aromas:

  • Piave DOP Mezzano is semi-hard and smooth with a slight savory and sweet flavor. It has aromas of milk and cooked butter.
  • Piave DOP Vecchio is hard with a moderate balance of sweet and savory notes. It has vegetal aromas of milk and toasted butter.
  • Piave DOP Vecchio Selezione Oro is hard and crumbly with moderate to strong sweet and savory flavor. It’s aroma is vegetal with hints of toasted nuts and tropical fruit.

All Piave DOP cheeses are hard cooked, made with enzymes from local milk, and wheels are soaked in a salty brine solution to develop flavor and rind formation. Piave DOP cheese contains essential amino acids, calcium and phosphorus, and is naturally lactose and gluten-free. Piave DOP cheese has won 50 awards in the last 10 years, and 35,000 wheels have been exported to over 30 countries. 

Piave DOP cheese is perfect on a cheese plate, incorporated into a recipe, or paired with Garda DOC sparkling wines that naturally bring out its sweet-savory flavor. It’s best to match Piave DOP cheese with milder flavors so accompaniments don’t overpower the cheese. Think: delicately mild preserves, honey, bread, and prosciutto.

All about Garda DOC wines

At first sip, Garda DOC wines envelop the senses with a unique personality. Healthy grapes that grow in an ideal environment yield high quality, unparalleled wines perfect for enjoying at any occasion. Growers take extreme care in cultivating top-notch grapes combined with a refined aging process. These wines reflect the terroir of Lake Garda thanks to cool, dry breezes off the water which allow for perfect ripening conditions. This picturesque region is dotted with over 400 wineries and over 10,000 growers.

From whatever point you look at Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy, its centuries-long history is immediately evident. This history is not only expressed by the stunning castles, churches, picturesque ports and villages where time seems to have stood still, but also by the region’s wine and food tradition which has preserved its strong identity and authenticity. The DOC Garda area is characterized by three cities of art and UNESCO World Heritage: Brescia in the East, Mantua in the South and Verona in the East. The river that descends from the lake, the Mincio, crosses Mantua and in Verona, the Adige.

The winemakers of Garda DOC harness cool breezes from Italy’s largest lake and plentiful sunshine to craft white and rosé spumante wines. The vineyards are set on morainic soil, which is full of mineral-laden rocks from a long-ago glacier and creates ideal growing conditions for grapes. Mineral notes like crushed stone, iron, steel, and chalk are unique characteristics present in these wines.

While the ideal situation of Garda DOC produces a complex array of white, rosé, and red wines, the core style of the redefined appellation is sparkling. Seven million bottles of sparkling wine are already produced across DOC Garda’s 10 areas of production, and it is expected that production will reach 20 million bottles in the near future.


White Garda DOC sparkling wine must be based on Garganega, Pinot Grigio, and/or Trebbiano, and Chardonnay, while rosé Garda DOC sparkling wine may be based on Corvina, Rondinella, Pinot Nero and Merlot. They may either be bottle-fermented (traditional method) or tank-fermented (Charmat), and they may range in sweetness from Brut Nature to Demi-Sec.

Pairing Guide

What to pair with Piave DOP cheese

Piave DOP cheese is versatile and snackable. Its balance of sweet and savory notes lends itself to a variety of applications depending on maturation. Suggestions include:

  • Piave Mezzano DOP: Sweet cured meats, eggplant, chestnut honey, Italian peeled tomatoes
  • Piave Vecchio DOP: Endive, cornichons, sweet Abbruzze sausage, dragonfruit, or passionfruit
  • Piave Vecchio Selezione Oro DOP: Dried apricots, fig and walnut jam, grapes, crackers, walnuts, hazelnuts

What to pair with Garda DOC wines

  • Chardonnay Garda DOC pairs nicely with fresh and saltwater fish, seafood, risotto, spaghetti with clam sauce, even sushi and sashimi!
  • Pinot Grigio Garda DOC is a fabulous aperitif, or can be paired with a wide variety of fresh and saltwater fish and seafood dishes. It’s also a great match for vegetarian fare. 
  • Garda DOC Spumante is a with natural oysters on the half shell, sushi and sashimi, and caviar. Its effervescence also makes it a great match for spicy foods.

Serving Ideas

While pairing Piave DOP cheese and Garda DOC wines on an appetizer or cheese board are wonderful pre-meal solutions, these products can also be incorporated into recipes. Here are a few ideas:

For more information, including a video and an informative, downloadable guide showing you how to merchandise Garda DOC wines and Piave PDO cheese in your store, click here.

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