Pairing Cheese and Pinot Noir

This Popular Wine is Versatile with Cheese

Pinot Noir is a red wine that is typically light to medium-bodied. It can have fruity notes of berries and cherries and earthier notes with hints of herbs and spices. 

Pinot Noir was born in the Burgundy region of France, and it’s in Burgundy where the best Pinot Noir is still produced. Like many other regions of France, Pinot Noir producers do not refer to their Pinot Noir wine as Pinot Noir, but instead call it red Burgundy, after the region where it’s made. The wines from Burgundy have flavors...MORE of ripe red berries, sweet black cherries, mushrooms and what sommeliers call forest floor, that smell you get from freshly fallen damp leaves.

Pairing Pinot Noir and Cheese

Sheep's milk cheeses often pair especially well with Pinot Noir, but they're not the only ones. All in all, Pinot Noir tends to be a fairly versatile wine with cheese. The exceptions can sometimes be strong, stinky cheeses and fresh goat cheeses, which overwhelm this delicate grape. Try some of the suggestions below to get started, then continue to experiment to find your favorite Pinot Noir and cheese pairings. 

  • 01 of 05

    Abbaye de Belloc

    Ewe's milk cheeses on market day
    Frances Linzee Gordon/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

    This French sheep's milk cheese from the Basque region is a mild, nutty and pleasant but complex-flavored cheese that doesn't overwhelm the subtle qualities of a Pinot Noir. The cheese has a firm, dense, rich and creamy texture. The taste resembles burnt caramel and there is a distinctive lanolin aroma.

    Abbaye de Belloc is also known as 'Abbaye Notre-Dame de Belloc' as it was first produced by the Benedictine monks at the 'Abbaye de Notre Dame de Belloc' in the Pays Basque...MORE region of Aquitaine, France. They used sheep's milk available in the locality and followed a cheese-making process that dates back to 3000 years.

    Abbaye de Belloc is a flat wheel shaped traditional, farmhouse, unpasteurized, semi-hard cheese. It has a natural, crusty, brownish rind with patches of red, orange and yellow. The rind is marked with tiny craters. The aging process of the cheese ranges from four to ten months.

  • 02 of 05

    Roucoulons

    Roucoulons French Cheese. Roucoulons. Photo courtesy of Price Grabber

    Pinot Noir has enough acidity to cut through the creamy texture of soft cheeses like Roucoulons. This French cows' milk cheese is mild, just slightly earthy and mushroomy, with beefy components, which can match the earthy flavors in some Pinot Noirs. 

    Roucoulons is a bloomy rind, cow's milk cheese produced by Fromagerie Milleret in Franche-Comte region of France. It is a soft ripened cheese with a pale, orange-colored.

    It is marketed as a “love” cheese with hearts on its packaging and its...MORE name deriving from the French word “roucouler” which means to talk fondly or amorously. Although it has a lovely depth of flavor, it is not a very popular in the United States. 

  • 03 of 05

    Zamarano

    Zamarano. Zamarano. Photo by J. Meier

    A sheep's milk cheese from Spain with a salty, buttery, nutty flavor that is enhanced by a fruit-driven Pinot Noir (or Zinfandel).  It gets characteristic flavor because of the breed of sheep – the small, scruffy Churra and the Castilian sheep. If you can't find Zamarano, try Manchego instead. 

    Zamorano is made in the region of Castile-Leon, Spain. This hard cheese takes almost 6 months to mature fully. It has a pale-yellow color with crumbly texture and contains 45% fat.

  • 04 of 05
    Italian Cheese Sottocenere. Sottocenere. Photo by J. Meier

    This Italian cheese, from the northern region of Veneto, is infused with the flavor of truffles and is a good match for an earthy Pinot Noir from the French region of Burgundy. 

    This creamy, labor-intensive cheese is made from pasteurized cow's milk. Aged in a coat of nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, licorice, cloves, and fennel, the Semi-Soft paste is laced throughout with slivers of black truffle. Delicate, aromatic and unusual, Sottocenere is a silken indulgence.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Comte

    Comte Cheese. Comte. Photo by J. Meier

    Although it's made with unpasteurized cows' milk, Comte has the same sweet, nutty character that makes so many sheep's milk cheeses pair well with Pinot Noir. Aged versions of Comté that have a stronger, sharper flavor might overwhelm some Pinots, but this French cheese is often just the thing with a glass of Pinot Noir. 

    Comté (also called Gruyère de Comté or Comte Fort Saint Antoine) is a French cheese produced in the Jura Massif region of Eastern France. This hard mountain cheese...MORE is matured to perfection in the silence and darkness of special caves where the cheese gets its unique taste, texture and color.  Comté is ripened for a minimum of 4 months to 18 or 24 months.  

    Considered one of the finest cheeses in the world, a wedge of Comte reveals a pale yellow interior and a texture that can vary from silky, flabby to crystalline.