Goat cheese comes in a variety of styles, from the fresh, crumbly logs of chèvre found in supermarkets, to bloomy-rind styles, aged Cheddar-like blocks, California’s famous mold-ripened Humboldt Fog and Norway’s fudgy, caramelized gjetost. Common among them are flavors that compose their distinctive, if polarizing, personalities. Use wine to bring out whatever aspect of the cheese most appeals to you.
Both lovers and critics of goat cheese often cite its “goatiness” as a defining trait. This gamy character is akin to barnyard aromas in wine, which can be appealing in moderation. A gamy wine might overwhelm, so balance it out with a juicy pour like Gamay from Beaujolais, California or Oregon.
Though most cheeses call for a crisp wine to cut through the richness, goat cheese comes with its own refreshing acidity. Just as jams and chutneys pair well with goat cheese by providing an indulgent contrast, Argentinian Malbec brings jammy black fruit balanced with aromas of meat and chocolate.
The subtle grassiness of goat cheese is perhaps why Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, such as Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé, is considered a classic pairing. These crisp wines have grassy, mineral notes; they won’t overwhelm the cheese with fruit.
For all its complex flavors, goat cheese always retains flavors of cream or butter. Tease out this sweet richness with white Bordeaux from Pessac-Léognan. The wines blend Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon, which gives a creamy texture, often enhanced by oak aging, with notes of stone fruit and nuts.