Laura's Pairings

  • Piave Vecchio
  • Barbers Cheddar
  • Lincolnshire Poacher

These wines are not shy with their dark fruit flavors, but the higher altitude at which the grapes are grown ensure balanced acidity and softer tannins. This makes cheese-pairing a cinch, at least within a certain range. That is, once you get into big red wine territory, you need to stay away from creamy cheeses, which tend to make bigger-style red wines bitter. Likewise, goat's and sheep's milk cheeses do not pair well with this style of wine either.

Look for semi-hard cheeses that aren't too salty or strong

Here are some examples of cheeses that make particularly good companions for this style of wine. If you can't find these cheeses, try and find similar ones based on these descriptions.

Piave Vecchio - This semi-hard Italian cheese is one of the most red wine-friendly cheeses in the world. It's defined by characteristics of butter and nuts and even a hint of caramel, yet it is inherently savory. It has a perfect amount of salt, which is key to the pairing. Too much salt would exaggerate the tannins.

Barbers Cheddar - Although this cheese has been around for generations in England, it's now starting to get the recognition it deserves beyond the British shores. As its name suggests, it is a cheddar, but what isn't in the name is its beautiful round, earthy, and even tangy flavors. Normally tanginess would be something to avoid with red wines, but this cheese's complexity and moist texture creates a compelling pairing for this style of wine.

Lincolnshire Poacher - Once again, a savory cheese finds its way with this fruit-forward yet inky wine style. This particular cheese, also made in England, is similar to a cheddar but parts ways in its distinct caramel-like flavors. It shares the earthy quality of English-style cheddars, though, which bridges beautifully with the wine.

Slices of Black Forest ham, blackberry jam, rosemary-flecked bread or crackers

Steak and Cheese Roll-Ups
Cut grilled or broiled flank or skirt steak into strips approximately 1 inch wide and 4 inches long. Cut cheddar or Piave into thin slices measuring about 1½ inch. Lay a piece of cheese crosswise over the meat about ¼ inch from the end, lining up the bottom of the cheese slice with the long edge of the meat strip. Place a few leaves of arugula on top of the cheese. Sprinkle with a few drops of olive oil, salt and pepper. Starting at the short end, roll up the meat and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining ingredients and serve.

Laura Werlin is one of the foremost authorities on cheese in the United States. She is the award-winning author of five books on the subject, a sought-after speaker at food and wine events, a spokesperson for consumer and trade organizations, and a frequent television and radio guest.

Each of Laura's books has been honored with domestic and international awards including the James Beard award for her book The All American Cheese and Wine Book, She has just finished her latest book, Grilled Cheese, Please, which will be released in March 2011.

Werlin is known for her approachable yet authoritative teaching style and is frequently asked to speak at prestigious events, most notably the annualFood & Wine Magazine Classic at Aspen, the South Beach Food & Wine Festival, the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, and the Artisan Cheese Festival in Sonoma County in California. She is also a regular instructor at the Cheese School of San Francisco.

Laura's website is