Top Six Countries for Wine and Cheese
Evidence suggests that wine first appeared 8,000 years ago in the modern-day country of Georgia. And what’s a glass of vino without some cheese? Cheese is nearly as old as wine; one of the oldest pieces of archeological evidence of cheese is from 7,000 years ago in present-day Croatia. But the past isn’t as far away as you might think. Cheese is being produced like it was 4,000 years ago in Xinjiang, China, and some countries still ferment wine in clay casks like the ancient Greeks and Romans.
In honor of these two delicious creations that are even better together, we’re celebrating National Wine and Cheese Day this July! Let’s chat about some countries that excel in both wine and cheese while completing each entry with a suggested wine and cheese pairing:
- France: Wine is often synonymous with France; its many wine regions, like Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne, are known across the globe. While French wine may be expensive, the average bottle is nothing compared to one that was purchased at an auction in 2018. A 73-year-old bottle of Burgundy sold for $558,000, which was the highest bid for a bottle of wine at an auction in history! When it comes to French cheeses, you might savor some Comté, Camembert, chèvre, or Brillat-Savarin with your French wine. We recommend Brie and Champagne.
- Italy: Italy is one of the oldest producers of wine in the world. It’s also the largest wine producer in the world. If you like white wine, have Northwestern Italy’s Asti or Northeastern Italy’s Pinot Grigio. For red wine, Amarone, Chianti, Sangiovese, and Barbera are some options. Italy is producing some great cheeses as well, such as Gorgonzola, provolone, and Asiago. And here’s a fun fact about mozzarella: it can be made with milk from buffalo, cow, sheep, or goat. However, there is varying production among these different kinds of mozzarella. If you’re reaching for Parmigiano-Reggiano, we recommend that you reach for some Chianti to go with it.
- United States: California produces most of the wine that comes from the United States… 84.4 percent of it! Washington produces the second-most at 5.1 percent, and New York produces the third-most at 3.5 percent. Texas is also coming up strong with new wine production. The United States has produced a variety of cheeses in its short history: American cheese, of course, appearing on burgers at many summer barbecues; Provel, used for St. Louis-style pizza; Monterey Jack; Humboldt Fog; and more. For the purposes of pairing, let’s focus on sharp cheddar from Vermont, which would go nicely with a Pinot Noir.
- Spain: The second-largest producer of wine in 2014, Spain has over 400 varieties of wine that are native to the country. Sherry, a white wine, and Tempranillo, a red wine, are some examples of Spanish wines. In the Spanish Basque Country, there’s Txakoli, a white, really dry, and somewhat fizzy wine. And one of Spain’s best-known cheeses is Manchego, which is a hard cheese that’s made with sheep’s milk. What wine should be paired with Manchego? According to Serious Eats, “Monastrell from southern Spain” would do the trick for a wine and cheese pairing.
- Argentina: Argentina, whose wine has origins in Spain, is the world’s fifth-biggest producer of wine. Nevertheless, Argentine wine has variety beyond Spanish influence. Argentina is famous for its Malbec, a red wine, which has origins in France. Despite this influence from other countries, Argentina’s quality in wine is unique; Argentine Malbec may be considered the best of its kind in the world! Argentina has created a number of cheeses that are similar to Italian cheeses: Provoleta (like provolone), Reggianito (like Parmigiano-Reggiano), and Sardo (like Pecorino Romano). For a wine and cheese pairing, we suggest Torrontés, which is a white wine, with goat cheese.
- South Africa: Pinotage is the second-most produced grape in South Africa, a hybrid between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, and rarely grown outside South Africa. Chenin Blanc is planted the most. One Wine Enthusiast article notes the significance of this white wine: “It’s time to know Chenin Blanc, especially those from South Africa.” While South Africa was largely associated with milder cheeses, as domestic and international interest in South African cheese grows, so does the variety in cheeses. Open a bottle of Pinotage alongside some Gouda.
Let us know how you enjoyed these wine and cheese pairings! However you celebrate National Wine and Cheese Day, we hope you look beyond the wine and cheese to the destinations themselves. While you can travel to the Loire Valley or Napa Valley through the aisles of your local supermarket, we recommend actually going there. And when you’re ready to go there, TravelStore will plan that culinary-infused vacation for you.