Italy is known for its delicious and diverse cuisine, from pizza and pasta to gelato and tiramisu. But let’s not forget about the exquisite Italian cheeses that perfectly complement these dishes. And what better way to enjoy a plate of Italian cheese than with a glass of rich, full-bodied red wine?
We’ll be taking a closer look at some of the best Italian red wines that pair perfectly with various types of Italian cheese. Cheese in italian dishes plays an extremely important role. Whether you prefer a bold Barolo or a smooth Chianti, there’s sure to be a wine on this list that will make your taste buds sing.
Italian cheeses are a cornerstone of the country’s cuisine, known for their distinct flavors and textures that have become incredibly popular worldwide. From the famous Parmigiano-Reggiano to Pecorino Romano and Gorgonzola, Italian cheese offers an array of flavors that can be enjoyed on their own or paired with wine.
The combination of Italian cheese and wine has been a classic pairing for centuries. The two complement each other in a way that enhances the flavors of both, making it an ideal choice for any occasion. Whether you are looking to indulge in some delicious cheese as a snack or planning a fancy dinner party, exploring the world of Italian cheeses is definitely worth your time and taste buds.
Soft Italian cheeses
Soft Italian cheeses are a culinary delight, appreciated by cheese lovers all over the world for their delicate texture and rich flavor. These cheeses are perfect to pair with a glass of wine, making them an ideal appetizer or dessert option for any occasion.
This soft italian cheese originates from Italy and is made using buffalo or cow’s milk. Mozzarella can be enjoyed in various forms such as grated, sliced, or melted on top of your favorite dishes. It pairs well with wine, making it an excellent addition to any meal.
The texture of mozzarella is often soft and smooth when fresh, but it becomes stringy and chewy when melted. This makes it perfect for use in pizza toppings or as a sandwich filling. Mozzarella has also become popular for use in salads, especially Caprese salad which typically consists of mozzarella slices with fresh tomatoes and basil leaves drizzled with olive oil. The use of buffalo milk provides a mozarella with a stronger taste.
Bocconcini cheese is a type of Italian cheese that originated in Naples. It is a small, semi-soft and mild-tasting cheese made from fresh cow’s milk. Bocconcini translates to “small mouthfuls” in English which refers to the bite-sized pieces that the cheese is traditionally served in.
The texture of bocconcini is smooth and elastic, with a slight chewiness that makes it perfect for salads, sandwiches or as a stand-alone snack. The flavor has a subtle milky taste with hints of creaminess and sweetness. One unique feature of bocconcini is its ability to seamlessly blend with other ingredients while still retaining its own distinct flavor.
It is made from the milk of cows and has a high fat content, which gives it its luxurious texture. Mascarpone can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, making it a versatile ingredient in any kitchen.
In sweet dishes, mascarpone adds richness and depth to desserts like tiramisu or cheesecake. Its mild flavor allows other ingredients to shine while providing a subtle creaminess that enhances the overall flavor profile.
In savory dishes, mascarpone can be used as a base for sauces or as a spread on crostini. Its smooth texture makes it easy to incorporate into recipes and adds an indulgent touch to any dish.
This soft, creamy cheese is made from the whey leftover after producing other cheeses, such as mozzarella or Parmesan. Ricotta has a mild taste and a slightly grainy texture that makes it perfect for both sweet and savory dishes.
It’s a key ingredient in classic dishes like lasagna, ravioli, and cannoli filling. Additionally, fresh ricotta can be used to make dips, spreads, and even desserts like cheesecake or tiramisu. The possibilities are endless when it comes to this delicious cheese.
Ricotta is lower in fat than many other types of cheese which makes it an ideal choice for those watching their calorie intake.
It is made from mozzarella and cream, burrata has a soft and buttery texture that melts in your mouth. It’s often served with fresh tomatoes, basil, and olive oil for an appetizer that’s perfect for summer.
You can use it in a variety of dishes, from salads to pizzas to pasta dishes. Its rich flavor and creamy texture make it an excellent substitute for other types of cheese like feta or goat cheese.
Scamorza is a type of cheese that originates from Southern Italy. This semi-soft cheese has a distinct pear shape and is made by stretching curdled milk. It can either be smoked or not, depending on personal preference.
It can be used in many different recipes, from simple sandwiches to elaborate pasta dishes. Its mild and slightly sweet flavor makes it an excellent choice for salads as well.
Hard Italian cheeses
Italian hard cheese is a staple in many kitchens around the world, and for good reason. With its rich and complex flavors, this type of cheese adds depth and character to any dish. From Parmigiano-Reggiano to Pecorino Romano, Italian hard cheeses are known for their sharpness, nuttiness, and versatility.
Parmigiano Reggiano, also known as Parmesan cheese, is a hard, granular cheese that originated in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. This cheese is made from raw cow’s milk and aged for at least 12 months to develop its distinctive texture and flavor. It is one of the most popular cheeses around the world and can be found in almost every supermarket.
The production process of Parmigiano Reggiano involves traditional methods that have been passed down for centuries. The first step involves heating the milk and adding natural rennet to it to coagulate it into curd. The curd is then cut into small pieces using a special knife called spino before being cooked at a high temperature. Once cooked, the curds are separated from the whey and molded into large wheels which are left to mature for several months.
Pecorino cheese is a delicious, hard Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. This cheese has a rich and tangy flavor that pairs perfectly with a variety of dishes. Pecorino is one of the oldest cheeses in Italy and has been enjoyed for centuries.
This cheese is typically aged for 8 to 12 months, which gives it its distinct flavor and texture. It’s commonly grated over pasta dishes or used as a topping on salads and sandwiches. Pecorino cheese also pairs well with wine, particularly red wines like Chianti or Sangiovese.
Gorgonzola Piccante is a type of blue cheese that hails from the Lombardy region of Italy. It is an intense, creamy cheese that packs a punch with its piquant flavor and crumbly texture. This artisanal cheese is made using traditional techniques passed down through generations.
Gorgonzola Piccante has a distinct aroma with earthy notes and hints of spice. Its sharp, tangy taste can be enjoyed on its own or paired with fruits, nuts, crackers or bread. This cheese also pairs well with full-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.
Fontina is a semi-soft cheese originating from the Valle d’Aosta region in Italy. It is made from cow’s milk and has a nutty, buttery flavor with hints of earthiness. The cheese has a pale yellow color and is known for its creamy texture that melts in your mouth.
One of the most distinctive features of Fontina cheese is its aroma. The scent can be described as pungent, but not overpowering, with notes of mushroom and grass. This makes it an ideal ingredient to add depth to dishes such as pasta, risotto or pizza.
Asiago d’allevo is a cheese that hails from the Veneto region in Italy and has been around since the Renaissance period. It is a semi-hard, cow’s milk cheese with a distinctive nutty flavor and creamy texture. Its production process involves using raw milk from cows that graze on the lush meadows of Asiago plateau. The cheese undergoes a rigorous aging process that lasts anywhere between three months to two years.
During its maturation, Asiago d’allevo develops flavors ranging from mild and tangy to sharp and complex. This versatile cheese can be enjoyed on its own or used as an ingredient in various recipes such as risottos, as pizza topping, salads, sandwiches, and more. It pairs well with red wines like Chianti or Pinot Noir or white wines like Pinot Grigio.
Scamorza and Provolone
Scamorza and provolone are two of the most popular Italian cheeses. Both originate from the Southern Italy, where they have been produced for centuries. While similar in appearance, these two cheeses have distinct flavors that set them apart.
Scamorza is a semi-soft cheese with a mild flavor and a slightly tangy taste. It is made from cow’s milk and often has a smoked version called “smoked scamorza”. This milk cheese is commonly used as a substitute for mozzarella in recipes such as pizza or caprese salad. Scamorza can also be eaten on its own as an appetizer or added to sandwiches.
Provolone, on the other hand, has a stronger flavor than scamorza due to its aging process. Made from cow’s milk, this cheese ranges from mild to sharp depending on how long it has been aged.
Best Italian Red Wines and White Wines to pair with Cheese
Italian Red Wines
Italy is renowned for its exceptional wine-making heritage, producing some of the world’s finest wines. Italian red wines are particularly popular, thanks to their rich flavors and versatility in pairing with various cuisines. From bold and full-bodied Barolo to smooth and elegant Chianti, Italy has a diverse range of red wines that cater to every taste.
Italian White Wines
For wine enthusiasts, nothing beats the experience of uncorking a bottle of Italian white wine. Known for their crisp flavors and refreshing acidity, Italian whites are a staple in many households across the globe. From the famous Pinot Grigio to lesser-known varieties like Vermentino and Falanghina, there is never a shortage of options when it comes to selecting an Italian white.
Barolo and Barbaresco – Piedmont Nebiolo
Barolo and Barbaresco are two of the most famous red wines from Italy’s Piedmont region. They both have a distinctive character that comes from the Nebbiolo grape variety, which is known for its high tannins and acidity. When it comes to pairing these wines with cheese, there are several options that can enhance their flavors.
One of the best cheeses to pair with Barolo and Barbaresco is Parmigiano Reggiano. This hard cheese has a nutty flavor that complements the earthy tones in both wines. Its texture also works well with their high tannins, creating a balanced taste on the palate.
Another great option is Castelmagno, a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk that has a sharp and tangy flavor. This cheese pairs well with both Barolo and Barbaresco due to its strong character.
Moscato d`Asti – Piedmont sparkling wines
Moscato d’Asti is a Piedmont sparkling wine with a sweet and fruity flavor. It’s the perfect choice for those who prefer lighter sparkling wines that are not too dry. Its delicate aroma and refreshing taste make it the ideal partner for cheese plates, particularly when paired with the right kind of cheese.
When selecting cheeses to pair with Moscato d’Asti, it’s important to consider flavors that complement each other. For example, soft and creamy cheeses like Brie or Camembert work well as their mild flavor profiles don’t overpower the wine’s sweetness. Another great option is fresh goat cheese, which has a tangy taste that balances out the wine’s sugary notes.
If you prefer something more robust, aged gouda can be an excellent choice as its nutty flavor enhances the wine’s fruitiness without overwhelming it.
Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino
When it comes to wine and cheese pairing, there are some classic combinations that have stood the test of time. One such pairing is Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino with a variety of cheeses. Both wines are from the Tuscany region in Italy, known for their rich history, beautiful landscapes and delicious cuisine.
Chianti Classico is a medium-bodied red wine that has been aged for at least two years in oak barrels. Its flavor profile includes notes of cherries, plums, and spices which make it an ideal match for cheeses like Pecorino Toscano or Parmigiano Reggiano. These hard Italian cheeses have a nutty flavor that complements the fruity notes of Chianti Classico perfectly.
Brunello di Montalcino is a full-bodied red wine made from 100% Sangiovese grapes.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is one of the most loved wines in Italy. This red wine has an intense and full-bodied flavor that pairs perfectly with different types of cheese. When it comes to pairing cheese with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, there are several options to consider.
One great option for pairing with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. This hard and nutty Italian cheese complements the bold flavors of this wine. The salty and tangy notes of Parmigiano-Reggiano enhance the taste of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, making it a perfect match for any occasion.
Another delicious option for pairing with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is Pecorino Romano cheese.
Valpolicella Classico, Ripasso and Amarone
When it comes to pairing cheese with wine, the right combination can elevate your taste buds to new heights. If you’re a fan of Italian wines like Valpolicella Classico, Ripasso and Amarone, then you’ll want to know the best cheeses to match with these rich and full-bodied reds.
Valpolicella Classico is a dry red wine that pairs perfectly with medium-aged cheeses such as Gouda or Fontina. The nutty and buttery flavors in these cheeses help balance out the acidity of the wine, while their soft texture complements the smoothness of Valpolicella Classico.
For those who prefer a bit more intensity in their wine, an Amarone or a Ripasso are an excellent choice. These wines have a complex flavor profile that pairs well with aged cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.
Puglia Primitivo is a rich and robust wine that pairs perfectly with cheese. When it comes to choosing the right cheese to pair with Puglia Primitivo, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you want a cheese that can stand up to the bold flavors of the wine. Second, you want a cheese that complements the fruity notes of the wine without overpowering them.
One great option for pairing with Puglia Primitivo is aged Parmigiano-Reggiano. This hard Italian cheese has a nutty flavor and buttery texture that pairs well with the tannins in the wine. The salty notes in Parmigiano-Reggiano also help bring out the fruitiness of Puglia Primitivo.
Another excellent choice is Gorgonzola Dolce.
This crisp, light white wine has a refreshing acidity that pairs perfectly with a wide variety of cheeses. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or simply enjoying a glass of wine after work, here are some of the best cheeses to pair with Pinot Grigio.
Try goat cheese! This tangy and creamy cheese is the perfect match for Pinot Grigio’s citrus notes. The acidity in the wine helps to cut through the richness of the cheese, leaving your palate refreshed and ready for more. Try pairing a fresh goat cheese with crackers or sliced baguette for an easy appetizer that will impress your guests.
Another great option is Parmesan reggiano. These popular italian cheeses pair well with pinot grigio.
It’s bubbly, refreshing, and perfect for any celebration. But did you know that Prosecco can be enjoyed even more with the right cheese pairing? Here are some of the best cheeses to pair with this Italian favorite.
Parmigiano-Reggiano with its nutty flavor complements the fruity notes in Prosecco perfectly. This hard cheese can also be grated over pasta or risotto dishes, making it a versatile ingredient in your kitchen.
Next up is Gorgonzola, an Italian blue cheese that pairs well with Prosecco’s acidity. Its rich and tangy flavor adds depth to your taste buds when combined with a glass of bubbly.