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Jennifer Meier

The Myth of Grapes and Cheese

By February 24, 2010

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Grapes are probably the most common fruit that graces a cheese plate. They fill up space beautifully, they're easy to pluck off and eat, and we've all seen countless still life paintings pairing grapes and cheese together. But have you ever eaten a grape and followed it immediately with a bite of cheese? Especially with soft cheeses, the combined flavor is often less than delicious, and as I experienced the other night, can be downright awful.

I came home hungry and happened to have a creamy, oozing, rather stinky washed rind cheese in my fridge. I sliced some baguette, washed a bunch of purple grapes, and eagerly began eating. With each bite, however, the cheese tasted worse than the first. The cheese was so bitter, I wasn't enjoying it at all. I blamed it on the rind, and tried eating just the creamy cheese. Still bitter. Finally, I wrapped the cheese up and put it back in the fridge, annoyed that I had blown $10.00 on a bad piece of cheese. I ate the rest of the grapes and forgot about it.

A few nights later, hungry again, I decided to give the cheese another try. I didn't have any grapes left, so I just ate the cheese. It tasted great. Creamy, stinky, but not at all bitter. It dawned on me that it was the grapes that had caused the cheese to taste bitter.

Tannins are usually associated with wine, but can be found in the skins of regular table grapes too. The astringent, bitter quality of grape skins can actually affect the flavor of the cheese you are eating. Tannins are also the reason that tea is not often a beverage paired with cheese. Wine is typically paired with cheese, however, highly tannic wines usually don't pair well. More on this later....but the lesson for today is: Grapes are good, but not always with cheese.

Comments

February 25, 2010 at 2:52 pm
(1) James Kiester says:

Do you think there are some cheeses go better with grapes than others? I just watched a review of a Syrah wine, and they recommended pairing it with firm aged cheeses such as Cheddar or Gouda. According to them, the proteins in such cheeses stand up better against the tannins than young soft cheeses. I’m wondering if the same isn’t true for grapes.

March 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm
(2) Cheese Guide says:

I think softer cheeses, especially washed rind, are most prone to tasting bitter when eaten with grapes. A nice gouda has enough rich, sweet flavor to combat any bitterness the grapes might bring.

March 8, 2010 at 5:38 pm
(3) James Kiester says:

Yeah, that’s kinda what I suspected.

November 17, 2010 at 7:22 pm
(4) vv says:

yea i think it just depends on the type of cheese your eating the grape with. because i have had grapes and cheese together before, and it tasted great to me. i think it was cubed cheese.

September 1, 2011 at 1:09 am
(5) akelana9@gmail.com says:

It depends on the type of cheese your eating it with. I prefer cheddar with purple grapes <33 Delicious!

October 2, 2011 at 9:18 pm
(6) try this says:

try eating sweet yellow/green grapes with mediterrenean soft unripened cheese.. akkawi, halloum, touma, any white unripened cheese….booooom

December 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm
(7) cheeseandgrapesaddict says:

Not every cheese goes well with any grape.

Never eat aged cheese with grapes. avoid eating black and purple grapes with cheese.

Best combinations are with white grapes (even red) and soft-style strongish cheeses like muenster (about the best), sharp cheddar or even monterey jack.

May 11, 2012 at 10:08 am
(8) Jade says:

I LOVE cheese and grapes..any kind, any flavors!

December 14, 2013 at 4:18 am
(9) mighty says:

Eat a a slice of cheddar/brie with cracker, when is all mix inside your mouth, take a grape.

February 8, 2014 at 2:56 pm
(10) Erroll says:

As I read this stuff, I’m munching on crunchy sweet red grapes and fresh provolone cheese slices, and it’s fabulous.. Give that a go and stop eating whatever crappy “stinky” cheese you’re talking about….

April 24, 2014 at 9:50 am
(11) sherry says:

my thought is you should change the Title of the Story… no myth here… you just used the wrong stinky cheese… don’t blame the grapes! Cheese and grapes have many great health benefits and are a perfect pair if done right… :)

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