Perfect Wine and Cheese Pairings from Trader Joe’s

Wondering if it was possible to maintain wine and cheese etiquette on the cheap, we asked two of San Francisco’s best sommeliers, John Vuong and Michael Ireland of wine bar High Treason (and formerly of Gary Danko and Restaurant at Meadowood, respectively), to walk us through a local Trader Joe’s wine and cheese section. Here are a few examples of how you can come up with perfect pairings right in the middle of any grocery store aisle.

Pairing: Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

John Vuong: Sauvignon Blanc is always grassy; chèvre is pungent. That’s what makes it a classic pairing. I like the Kim Crawford style a lot—it really shows Sauvignon Blanc in its purest form, which is a very musky, pungent grape, and very citrusy and savory. There’s also a little bit of grapefruit and grapefruit rind.

Blue Stilton
Pairing: Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Villa Borghetti

JV: Classic Stilton is a good option for people just starting out with blue cheese; it’s not as aggressive. It has really deep blue veins, and is generally milder and sweeter. Michael Ireland: Amarone is an easy pairing. It’s similar to Port, but it won’t be as alcoholic. There’s a lot of sugar left in the wine. That sugar, along with the fruit and raisin flavors, do well with the mold in the cheese.

Goat’s Milk Gouda Cheese
Pairing: 2014 Famille Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône Rouge

MI: I would go with Rhône—something with no oak. Oak brings another level of tannin, which I wouldn’t really want with this goat’s milk gouda.

Camembert Soft-Ripened Cheese
Pairing: Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages

MI: A rich and creamy camembert needs something with a little more weight, yet still a good amount of acid, like a Burgundy with a little bit of oak structure. I drink this wine from Louis Jadot at home. It’s super solid.

Parmigiano-Reggiano Stravecchio
Pairing: Mulderbosch Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon

MI: This is actually a really great South African Rosé! It’s made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape—very tasty. It’s a dry Rosé with a lot of dark fruit and it has a ton of structure. That tannin will scrub your palate between the bites of the salty, fatty Parmigiano.

To read the full reviews, tasting notes and see the scores of these wines, visit

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