Unveiling the Best Wine Pairings with Camembert: An Expert Guide

Camembert is great with wine, but you need to know what pairs with it. Many just don’t work. That’s because many people like to pair camembert with red wine. It can be hard to find the perfect pairing. It’s fine to pair with red wines (more on that later!) but there are better options.

Some wines are too fruity or acidic to go well with the cheese. Others have such strong tannins that they overwhelm the delicate Camembert flavor. However, there are plenty of other options available if you’re looking for an alternative way to enjoy this amazing cheese.

In this article, I’ll explore some great alternatives to red wines and why they work so well together.

What is Camembert?

Camembert is a soft, creamy cow’s milk cheese that originated in Normandy, France. It is made from unpasteurized milk and has a mild but distinctive taste that can be enjoyed on its own or as part of a cheese plate.

Which wine? Red or White?

Many people will have a glass of red with camembert, but if it’s not your favorite wine, there are other options. White wines have more variety. You can try something light and fresh like a Pinot Grigio or something richer and more full-bodied like Sauvignon Blanc.

If you don’t like the first pairing, try something else. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what you like best.

White wine with Camembert. Why is it better?

White wines tend to be lighter than red, so they’re less likely to overwhelm the camembert. The alcohol in the wine is found mostly in the grape skins, which are removed during winemaking. This gives red wines more of a punch than white ones. White wines are also lower in tannins than reds, which means they don’t have as much bite on your palate. That means less risk of overpowering your cheese course.

Finally, white wines tend to have higher acidity levels than reds do. This contributes to their lightness and ability to complement creamy or soft cheeses like camembert or brie.

Pairing Camembert with white wines

While red wines can be a bit more overpowering, white wines can be lighter and less heavy, making them a better fit for camembert. White wines are typically not as dry as reds, so if you find one that is not too dry or acidic then it could work very well indeed.

Remember to look for the hints of sweetness in the wine and look out for those creamy notes.

Avoid the very dry wines

It won’t work with every type of white wine. For instance, a very dry wine such as Sauvignon Blanc might not go so well. But most other types will be fine.

Look for balance

The main thing to remember when thinking about the best wine with camembert is that it’s all about balance. If you have a rich cheese like Camembert and a light wine, then you’re not going to get much flavor from either of them.

And if you put a rich cheese with an overpowering, tannic red wine then again it’s going to be tough for both components of your meal to shine through.

Good Examples:

Riesling

Riesling, especially late harvest riesling can be creamy enough to complement the camembert nicely. The sweetness of the wine will cut through the richness of the cheese, and with its acidity and low alcohol content, it won’t overwhelm it.

The best examples are from Germany or Alsace, where Riesling is made in a style that’s more about balance than power.

Try one of these:

Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Riesling Kabinett 2017

This Kabinett is a fresh, crisp wine with lingering sweetness balanced by tart lemon-lime acidity. Delicate wisps of smoke and earth lend touches of complexity throughout, adding dimensions to its fruity character.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese

Spätlese Riesling is richer and more intense in flavor than Kabinett. It comes with a lively minerality that perfectly balances the bright white peach and lemon fruit you’ll find here. Worth seeking out.

Ransom Sunnyside Vineyard Riesling (Willamette Valley of Oregon)

From the vineyard themselves, “This single vineyard, old vine bottling from the South Salem Hills is a classic, terroir-revealing Riesling. Opening with fresh fruit aromas of key lime and pineapple, the palate offers vivid acidity and flavors of Meyer lemon zest and candied ginger wrapped around a mineral vein. The wine finishes fresh and bright, with a beguiling note of honeysuckle blossom. A delight to drink now, but also exceedingly age-worthy.” 

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is another option. It’s a good choice if you don’t like red wine, but you also don’t want to go with white wine. Chardonnay is a common accompaniment to cheese and works well with Camembert.

In general, Chardonnay is a good option for cheese because it has a lot of acidity and pairs well with the creamy texture of many kinds of cheese. It also works well with spicy foods and can help cut through fattier ones like brie too.

I recommend the following Chardonnays:

Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay

This vineyard is located in California, and it’s a great place to start your search for a good Chardonnay with crab legs. This wine is made from grapes grown in the Sonoma Valley, where the climate is ideal for growing them. Fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels for richness, toastiness, and complexity.

J. Lohr Chardonnay

This California winery has been making award-winning wines for over 30 years, and this Chardonnay is no exception. They use grapes from their own vineyards in Monterey County, which means that you can be sure the quality is always high. This wine has a rich golden color with notes of citrus and vanilla on the nose.

Ladera Vineyards Chardonnay

This Chardonnay is made from grapes grown in the Santa Lucia Highlands, which is a cool climate area. It’s aged in French oak barrels for about 15 months before being bottled and has notes of vanilla and toasted hazelnuts on the nose.

Hagafen Cellars “Reserve” Napa Valley Chardonnay

Made from grapes grown in Napa Valley. It has a rich golden color with notes of citrus, vanilla, and toasted hazelnuts on the nose. It’s aged for about 18 months in French oak barrels before being bottled.

Go for oaked white wines

The best wine to pair with Camembert is one that’s been aged in an oak barrel. The process of aging in oak barrels gives the wine a buttery flavor, which accentuates the natural butteriness of Camembert cheese.

It’s important to choose a wine that has been oaked. Otherwise, it may clash with the cheese rather than complement it.

Best red wine with Camembert

Best Red Wine with Camembert

If you prefer a red wine then you’ll typically want something with a good balance of fruit and acidity for red wines. Some recommendations include:

  1. Pinot Noir: A lighter red wine like Pinot Noir from Burgundy or other regions can work well. Its bright red fruit flavors, earthiness, and acidity can provide a nice contrast to the creaminess of the Camembert.
  2. Beaujolais: Made from the Gamay grape, Beaujolais is known for its fresh, fruity character, and relatively high acidity, which can complement Camembert quite well, especially a Beaujolais Villages or Cru Beaujolais.
  3. Merlot: If you prefer something a bit fuller, a softer Merlot with its plum and berry flavors can be a pleasant match, especially if it’s from a cooler climate that preserves some acidity.

Best Pinot Noir with Camembert:

2016 Domaine Lecheneaut Les Pruliers

This is towards the more expensive end of the price range but no doubt this is an exceptional wine. Les Pruliers has a strong color. The wine offers aromas of fresh red fruit, wild prunes, and licorice. As it ages, it adds depth and roundness. It has aromas of cocoa, and smoked meat.

2019 Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge

More affordable is the Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge. This is an organic pinot noir that’s delicate, easy to drink, and naturally delicious. It has a fresh, crunchy, summer pudding fruit flavor with crisp acidity and just lip-smacking moreishness. And because it’s low in sulfur, it’s great for summer or winter drinking.

2018 Corazza Pinot Nero

At the lower end of the price range is the Pinot Nero. This is a unique wine from Friuli, a region in northeastern Italy. It’s made from the pinot noir grape and is unlike other pinot noirs you might be used to. It’s light, bright, and easy to drink.

Best Beajolais with Camembert

Domaine Jean Foillard Morgon Cote du Py

Critic tasting note: (2007 vintage) “This is a great glass of fruitiness, all red berry flavors, sweetness and softness. It has density at the same time, coming from the concentrated, ripe fruits. This is a pleasure of a wine, the only hint of aging potential coming from soft tannins and final acidity.” – 89/100Wine Enthusiast

Domaine Marcel Lapierre Morgon

Critic tasting note: (2007 vintage) “Bottled unfiltered, this shows extravagant fruit, very rich, black cherry in character, with tannins that veer between serious structured concentration and balanced with the fruit. The texture is sweet, the fruit deliciously ripe, showing good concentration as well as an exuberant play between acidity and fruit.” – 91/100Wine Enthusiast

Chateau Thivin Cote de Brouilly Cuvee Zaccharie

Critic tasting note: (2020 vintage) “The top wine from this estate, this draws much of its texture from the volcanic soil of Mount Brouilly. That gives a tight character to this young wine and also great promise. Black fruits, acidity, and tannins and vanilla from wood aging come together well in a wine ready to drink from 2024. Roger Voss” – 94/100Wine Enthusiast

Best Merlot with Camembert

Mayacamas Mt. Veeder Napa Valley Merlot 2019

This mountainside Napa red, from the historic estate Mayacamas, has 5% cabernet franc in the blend that seems to lift the herbal notes on the nose. Bright blueberry fruit is balanced by savoury mushroom and pencil-lead flavors that are brilliantly held by the acidity and fine firm tannins that will allow this to age.

Arietta 2019 Merlot “Hudson” Carneros Napa

The 2019 Merlot Hudson Vineyard is full of dark fruit, chocolate, and other savory notes that add complexity to the wine. The wine has a fruity bouquet, with aromas of fresh blueberries and raspberries mixed with vanilla and oak.

Château Lyonnat Emotion, Lussac Saint-Emilion, 2016

The wine’s deep and intense ruby color is accented by a powerful nose with aromas of black fruits, blackcurrant, and darker berries. Notes of toasty oak lend complexity to an already complex bouquet. 

The wine’s aroma and flavor are bold, yet elegant. The woodsy scent of truffles lingers on the palate after each sip is swallowed.

Conclusion

Camembert is a delicious, creamy cheese that you can serve on its own or as the centerpiece of a cheese plate. If you’re not sure what wine to pair it with, there are some stand-out options.

For white wines, Riesling and Chardonnay are your best bets to pair with Camembert. The sweetness of the Riesling and the buttery nature of Chardonnay are characteristics that make the pairings work so well.

If you prefer red, Pinot Noir is a great choice for a fruity wine that will go well with the earthy tones of your Camembert.

Recommended recipe with your wine pairing: Goodto.com has a highly-rated recipe for Baked Camembert that is worth a try.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to take a look at the Best Wine with Baked Brie.