Cheese and wine have always enjoyed a great partnership, one that os certainly on par with popcorn and movies or peanut butter and jelly. However, there are precious few people who truly know the reason why they make for such a wonderful tandem.
Fortunately, there is a useful scientific explanation as to why certain foods go well together that can be applied to the wine/cheese tandem. Many of the most widely consumed food combinations will take an astringent food that will cause your mouth to pucker up and pair it with a fattier food that gives the mouth a more slippery feeling.
By pairing astringent foods with fatty foods, we are providing our mouths with a great feel that they often crave. Simply put, the opposing feels that cheese and wine provide come together to create a feeling that our mouths desire.
When we eat fatty foods, they provide the mouth with a slick or even oily feel. On the other hand, astringents like wine contain chemical compounds (such as tannins) that are designed to offer the mouth a more dry and rough sort of feeling.
These chemical compounds chemically bind the lubricant proteins that are found in saliva and this causes the proteins to bind together and become solidified. This process then leaves the tongue and gums free of their typical coating of lubrication.
Since we do not enjoy the feeling of being puckered up but we also do not enjoy the feeling of being overly lubricated, we crave food combinations that offer us the best of both worlds and allow us to split the difference between these two sensations.
When it comes to wine and cheese, these effects are pronounced by the fact that astringents have an increased impact on the mouth with each sip. The mouth perceives the liquid as being more astringent with every exposure and this causes the person to react to the effect of the cheese/wine combination that they have chosen.
Researchers also attribute the wine/cheese phenomenon to something that is known as "mouthfeel". Mouthfeel is a term that most wine and cheese aficionados will already be intimately familiar with and when you pair cheese and wine with one another, you are actually doing your part to create a feel for your mouth that is naturally balanced.
As you can see, there is a very real explanation for why cheese goes so well with wine, an explanation that is even supported by scientific research. The next time you are at a dinner party or a wine/cheese tasting, be sure to bear all of the aforementioned information in mind so that you can wow your fellow wine and cheese lovers with everything that you know.