Parmigiano-Reggiano and Sangiovese wines, especially Italian born Sangiovese wines, are a tremendous match. Often I’m happy with just these two things with maybe some bread thrown in. In the first Great Pairing I broke a rule of mine by suggesting a cheese before the meal. Today I break another rule by having cheese with red wine. I suppose it’s best to start with the exceptions as exceptions are often memorable.
I love the combination of a great Parmigiano-Reggiano and Tuscan Sangiovese from the simplest Chianti to Brunello di Montalcino. There is nothing like a mature Brunello and a freshly cracked 2-year-old Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s simply sublime. Other great red wine pairings include: Barbera (especially from Alba), Nebbiolo based wines, and a moderately naked Zinfandel.
White Wine Pairings for Parmigiano-Reggiano
As a rule white wines are better choices with cheese. With Parmigiano-Reggiano I am looking for a wine with great acidity and a lot of fruit and hopefully a bit of a silky texture. The play of the fruity wine with the salinity of the cheese is very appealing and of course you need a good dose of acidity as a foil to the fat. White wines I love with Parmigiano-Reggiano include:
- Arneis – a unique, crisp and floral wine from Italy’s Piedmont region
- Alsace Gewurtztraminer and Riesling – these are fragrant and fruit-driven wines with loads of fresh acidity
- Condrieu – the Rhone’s beautiful white made with Viognier has a unique fruit signature and vibrant acidity
A word on Parmigiano-Reggiano Freshness
Parmigiano-Reggiano like all grana style cheeses is hard and fairly dry by nature. Once the giant wheel (roughly 80 pounds) has been opened the cheese starts to change. Some say it starts to die, which is a bit overly dramatic but without question the cheese does lose its slightly creamy texture once exposed to the air. My recommendation is to buy Parmigiano-Reggiano at a retailer that sells a great deal of the cheese increasing your odds of getting a fresh wedge. At over $20 a pound you should demand the best possible.
Pairing Beer with Parmigiano-Reggiano
It’s no secret that often the best wine for cheese is beer. Beer styles that works particularly well with Parmigiano-Reggiano are:
- Belgian Style Triple
- Belgian Strong Pale
- German Helles Lager