Nothing screams fall quite like a leisurely afternoon of sipping wine by the fireplace, enjoying the crisp weather, and pairing your favorite glasses with your favorite seasonal activities. And while a view of the foliage and a good book make for a great pairing, nothing adds quite the oomph to your glass of wine like the perfect cheese. We picked out some of our favorite sips for the season and spoke to experts in the industry to create the ideal pairings for the most palatable autumn experience.
1924 DOUBLE BLACK BOURBON BARREL AGED CABERNET SAUVIGNON ($15)
Inspired by the heyday of Prohibition, 1924 Wines is known for their bold flavors and rebellious spirit. This particular bottle is crafted using Northern California-grown grapes from Lodi. Notes of blackberry, vanilla, and warm spices round out this barrel-aged Cab, making it the ultimate sip for a cool, crisp day.
Pair it with: MIMOLETTE EXTRA VIEILLE
French Cheese Board Manager Charles Duque suggests this hard cow’s milk cheese for a complementary pairing. This extra old Mimolette is matured for 24 months, resulting in a unique and developed taste, with flavors of toasted hazelnut, caramel, coffee, and butterscotch.
2020 BODYGUARD BY DAOU ($40)
California-based winery DAOU Vineyards is known for their French-inspired wines made in the heart of Paso Robles. Bodyguard is a bold red wine comprised of Petit Verdot and Petit Sirah grapes, boasting striking notes of plum, dried cherry, hints of leather, and a sprinkle of minerality. The resulting sip is full, complex, and deeply satisfying.
Pair it with: BEAUFORT AND PONT L’EVEQUE
“This big wine deserves a bold cheese, or better yet, two!” exclaims Duque. Both cow’s milk cheeses, the former is a raw cheese aged between six and nine months, developing a fruity and flowery flavor. The latter is the oldest Norman cheese still in production, with earthy notes, as well as cabbage and hazelnut. “Both cheeses have a meaty quality that contrastnicely with the fruity notes of the wine, while keeping its character,” explains Duque. “Neither will overpower the other. The earthiness of the wine and the beefiness of the cheese will create a savory umami bomb on your palate.”
BALLERINA BRUT STARRY ROSÉ ($39)
No one does rosé quite like Gérard Bertrand, and this brut blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes hits the mark. Made in the South of France, like many great rosés are, this particular bottle undergoes a 36-month aging process, resulting in subtle red fruit notes, along with white flowers and brioche.
Pair it with: ROQUEFORT
Hailing from the same region is roquefort, one of the most famous bleu cheeses. Produced from ewe’s milk, this potent, creamy cheese has a beautifully balanced flavor profile, with aromas of animal and mushroom and a slight spice on the palate. “The presence of red fruits both in the nose and mouth complements the wine. The typical buttery, grainy texture must be dissolved slowly, which is attained with the sparkle of the wine,” explains Duque.
CRESCERE 2018 PROPRIETARY CHARDONNAY ($80)
This Sonoma County winery is known for its limited production, hand-crafted wines, and their Proprietary Chardonnay—of which there are only 150 cases—is one drinkable wine. Bright notes of honeydew, cantaloupe, and grilled apples precede subtleties of fresh fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and hazelnut.
Pair it with: AGED CHEDDAR
Jenn Mason, founder of curds&co, curdbox.com, and boards&co, suggests pairing this chardonnay with Fiscalini Farmstead’s Old World Aged Cheddar. Aged for 14 months, this raw cow’s milk cheese also has California roots that make this the perfect pairing. “The smokey and slight nuttiness of the English-style cheddar will complement the earthy tones that this wine brings to the glass,” she tells us.
FINCA DEL MARQUESADO BLANCO RIOJA 2020 ($20.99)
Made in the Rioja region of Spain, this dry white blend comes from one of the region’s most historic families, the Valdemar family, and is also known for its focus on sustainability. Their crisp Blanco has notes of almond, acacia, and pear, making for a refreshing fall option if you are a white wine lover.
Pair it with: IDIAZABAL
Hailing from the Basque region of Spain, this raw sheep’s milk cheese is aged for six months. The manchego cheese is “traditionally aged in the rafters where the wood smoke from the fireplace adds its fingerprint on these delicate, but complex wheels,” explains Mason. This brings a firm smokiness to the Blanco wine, resulting in a foolproof pairing.
CHAMPAGNE PALMER BLANC DE BLANCS ($89.99)
Champagne Palmer’s 70+ year history makes it one of the most prestigious champagne houses in the world. Their Blanc de Blancs, which is aged on the lees for five years, has won numerous competitions all around the world. Faint notes of citrus, white flowers, and almonds can be detected on the palate, along with a fresh minerality.
Pair it with: PICO
Mason recommends pairing this bubbly with Picandine En Perigord’s Pico, a goat milk, brie-style cheese. “The bubbles will cut through the creaminess, revealing a tangy citrus note that will dance beautifully with the delicate citrus fruitiness,” says Mason.