Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the most versatile pairing cheeses out there, even though his bold personality and prolific flavor may intimidate when you’re standing at the bottle shop trying to pick a perfect pairing. A little bit goes a long way with Parm, but there are also lots of ways to enjoy many bites of this cheese. He goes with whites, he goes with reds, he’s partial to bubbles, he’s into beer. Think about it: we’re talking about a nutty, nuanced, hard cheese with a distinct crumble and lively umami-rific backbone. In the same way that it pairs with both sweet and savory accompaniments, Parm goes with wines and beers from all over the flavor spectrum.
General Beverage Pairing Rules To Always Keep In Mind
What Grows Together Goes Together: Be broad or get specific. Italian cheeses were regionally intended to pair with Italian wines. Same for France, same for Spain…you get the idea. Take it a step further and look into what region your cheese was made in, and what beverages come from that exact same place.
Textures Matter: Fresh cheeses love wheat beers and other things that clean the palate up. Rich cheeses love bubbles for the “mouth scrubbing” effect, as they break up dense and buttery textures. Stinky cheeses are well-enhanced by sweeter beverages; this could be sweet malt, a honeyed-texture wine, etc. Big firm cheeses are protein-rich and in the same way that tannins are great with steak, a tannic red wine is great with a stoic-textured cheeses. Blue cheeses can be spicy and salty; tame them with anything rich, chocolatey or dark.
Think About An Accompaniment That You Like With A Cheese. Now Pretend That Accompaniment Is A Wine Or Beer. Love cherries and cheese? Pinot Noir is famously cherry-like in aroma and acidity. A Flemish sour can offer the same effect for beer fans. Do you drizzle honey over everything? A) Good for you. B) Sauternes is the alcoholic honey of the dessert wine world. Richer white wines, such as Gewürztraminer and Viognier, will also mimic this honeylike quality.
Parm and Bubbles
With big, crunchy cheeses and sparkling wine, take a bit of caution in making sure not to create too intense of a pairing. That said, bubby wine is an excellent thing to have all of the time, so figure out fun ways to make this work. Parmigiano Reggiano has such an old-school Italian personality that it would be crazy not to go for Italian sparkling wine to pair. You’ve got two great options here: Prosecco and Lambrusco.
Prosecco is a sparkling wine made in the Veneto region of Italy around the city of Treviso, just a little bit north of Venice. It’s made with Prosecco (a.k.a. Glera) grapes and produced using an affordable method called the ‘Tank Method’. Prosecco will be less yeasty and rich than Champagne, offering a clean fruity brightness instead. We love the Ca Furlan Prosecco available at our Franklin Bottle Shop, which tastes and smells like a fuzzy nectarine. Add some marmalade to your Parm for the full stone fruit experience here.
Lambrusco is red sparkling wine, and you shouldn’t write it off as sweet plonk, no matter how many Riunite On Ice commercials you watched back in the day. (That’s nice!) Hailing from North-Central Eastern Italy, Lambrusco is the name for both the grape and the designated growing areas in which it is produced. Native to a land of rich foods—notably hard, salty cheeses, charcuterie and meaty pasta sauces—the wine’s bright acidity, spritzy fizz and dark, tannic fruit notes provide a great counterbalance. Low in alcohol and consistently a good value, they are designed to be enjoyed effortlessly, at a chilled temperature, with good food and good company. Think about this as sparkling Balsamic wine, even though it sounds weird. The figginiess and spritz compliment Parm quite nicely.
Parm And White Wine
White wine is a lovely way to balance Parm’s saltiness with some fresh and fruity notes. Oak will not be your friend in this case. (Sorry, Cali Chard.) Whites that are medium-bodied, crisp and gently fruity are the way to go instead. We’re fond of Pinot Grigio from the Veneto and, if youprefer domestic, Pinot Blanc from Oregon. Wines with medium acidity and a bit of sweetness, such as an off-dry Riesling or Gewurztraminer, offer natural sweetness to balance out the saltiness of Parmesan nicely.
Franklin Bottle Shop Suggestion: Dönnhoff Kreuznacher Krötenpful Riesling
Parm And Red Wine
Sticking with a regional theme, there’s a lot of great Italian red wine out there to pair with Parm. Like, a lot a lot. A few key words to look out for on those ever-intimidating imported wine labels: Montepulciano (both a grape and a place; quite trustworthy with a high fruit flavor presence), Barbera (a fun fruity red), Dolcetto (another fun and fruity red, lighter in body than Barbera), Valpolicella (surprise! Another fun, fruity red that is medium in body), and Nebbiolo (the grape of Barolo, more leathery and inky than fruity, but still appropriately delicious). Barolo is also a great way to go, but expect a higher price tag than the other options mentioned.
Franklin Bottle Shop Suggestion: Nicodemi Montepulciano, Gran Passione Rosso
Beer, Here: Parm And His Malty Friends
Parm can get friendly with a whole slew of different beers. A crisp, thirst-quenching pilsner is always welcome with a hunk of Parmesan. A medium-bodied amber ale, with sweet caramel notes and a smooth finish, can also be great if you like something with a little more heft. On the stronger side, a Doppelbock or another type of malt bomb can be excellent, with an underlying sweetness to compliment the salty cheese. IPAs…we wouldn’t really recommend at the top of the list, but they can work nicely if the bitterness isn’t too prevalent. Something more malt-forward would be our recommendation.
Another way to play it with beer is to go for a beer that resembles balsamic, by which we mean a Flemish sour-style. The icon in mind is Rodenbach, which is all of tart, berrylike, sweet and slightly sour. It’s a perfect punch of flavor against a salty Parm.
Rodenbach is available at our Franklin Bottle Shop location.