Scientists Finally Reveal Why Wine and Cheese Taste Better Together

We all know that wine and cheese go together like—well—like birds of a feather, or like yin and yang, or like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. But now science knows precisely why that is—an achievement worthy of some Cheez-It and a box of...

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Oct 21 2016, 7:00pm

We all know that wine and cheese go together like—well—like birds of a feather, or like yin and yang, or like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. But now science knows precisely why that is—an achievement worthy of some Cheez-It and a jug of fermented Welch's, at the very least.

A recent study published in the Journal of Food Science looked at the sensory evidence of how cheese influences the perception of wine—and the results showed that consuming cheese actually makes people perceive wine as tasting better.

Given that the researchers are French—the study was conducted at France's Centre de Sciences du Gout et de l'Alimentation, or Center for Taste and Feeding Behavior—the wines and cheeses sampled were pretty good ones. We're talking about a nice Sancerre and a Burgundy matched with a tad of Roquefort and some comte. Not bad, c'est vrai? The participants were described as "frequent wine and cheese consumers from the city of Dijon."

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"The tasting protocol was based on multi-intake temporal dominance of sensations coupled with hedonic rating," according to the researchers, which is a science-y way of saying that the subjects were asked to describe their dominant sensation after taking three consecutive sips of wine. Then the task was repeated, but the participants ate a piece of cheese between sips.

Turns out, the participants generally liked the wines better—and rated them to be less astringent—after eating the cheese, indicating that the creaminess of the fromage may have helped to cut the wine's acidic notes. "None of the four cheeses included in the study had a negative impact on wine preference," the researchers found.

"In short, when having a plate of assorted cheeses, the wine will probably taste better no matter which one they choose," explains lead author Mara V. Galmarini.

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Why do this type of research? The authors say that the sensory method developed in their work is unique, and can be used to help other researchers understand why consumers' perception of one product may be changed when that product is consumed in combination with another.

Now if science could only figure out why eggs and bacon taste so great together—that would be something!

Oh, and curing cancer might be pretty nice, too.