Gouda is a semi-hard cheese made from raw or pasteurized cow’s milk with a fat content ranging from 48 to 60 percent. Named after the town of Gouda in southern Holland, this cheese is aged for one month for a smooth, creamy cheese, to three years and more for a hard, salty cheese. Some Gouda cheeses also contain herbs and spices for flavor, or have a smoked flavor. Numerous types of wines pair well with Gouda.
Cabernet Sauvignon, commonly called the “King of Red Wine Grapes,” pairs well with Gouda cheese as its high tannin content holds up well to aged Goudas. It may be too overpowering for a young, soft Gouda. This wine normally has fruity flavors ranging from blueberries and blackberries to cherries and plums; or it may have tobacco or leather aromas and flavors.
Pinot Grigio, a light wine, pairs well with a young Gouda. Pinot Grigio is light enough to avoid overwhelming the taste of the Gouda, even if you have chosen a very young cheese. This white wine comes in a wide variety of flavors including melon, citrus fruits and pears, and can have smoky and even honey undertones.
Often called “The World’s Favorite White Wine,” Chardonnay is the biggest selling white wine in America and is the ideal choice for medium-aged Gouda. A classic Chardonnay will go with most ages of Gouda and a Chardonnay with bolder flavors will mesh with an older Gouda. You’ll find Chardonnays with aromas and flavors including citrus fruits, tropical fruits and stone fruits such as apples, peaches and pears.
Smoked Gouda goes best with a spicier wine such as a Pinot Noir. This red wine won’t be too overwhelming, especially for the salty, nutty Gouda choices. A young Pinot Noir’s fruity undertones compliment the cheese, and its low tannin and moderate acidity makes this an ideal pairing choice.
For another red wine that pairs smoothly with Gouda, consider Beaujolais. These light-bodies wines can have various notes, such as a smoky undertone or have strawberry or cranberry flavors, among many others. Whether you pair it with an older, hard Gouda or a young, slightly sweet one, Beaujolais is a good choice.
Riesling is a semi-sweet wine with peach and citrus undertones. Its lightness compliments a younger Gouda that is creamy and easy on the palate. Riesling wines originated in Germany and are versatile; they are available in dry and sweet options. Keep in mind that Rieslings from different areas, such as Australia or a European country, taste very different from one another. Experimentation may be necessary to discover which you like best with Gouda.
References and ResourcesDutchNews.nl; European commission confirms protection for Gouda Holland; Oct. 7, 2010
"Cheese: Exploring Taste and Tradition"; Patricia Michelson; 2010
"The Definitive Canadian Wine & Cheese Cookbook"; Gurth Pretty, et al.; 2007
"Fiona Beckett's Cheese Course: Styles, Wine Pairing, Plates & Boards, Recipes"; Fiona Beckett; 2009