Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Want Some Cheese With That Wine?

With the country in disarray from the so-called storm and the carnage which we all faced on the Monday work commute, I think we're all in need of a bit of comfort. After the stress of having to catch the bus - the bus! twice the time, half the space -  instead of the train to work, I found my mind wandering to the wines in my wine rack at home whilst the bus weaved through the country lanes.  With a couple bottles of Syrah and some crisp whites, I've decided a cheese and wine night is in order - the ultimate in dairy, boozy comfort.

Having already uttered the words 'oh god, it's dark already' and 'it's going to be so cold outside' as I prepared to leave the office yesterday, I'm almost ready to hibernate for the winter and reacquaint myself with an autumnal cheeseboard, good friends and a few glasses of vino.

So what cheese, which wine?

If it's the perfect cheese and wine match you're looking for, keep it simple and choose just one cheese with one sensational wine match - a full cheeseboard always proves more challenging but can be done. Some months ago I came across a fantastic article about cheese and wine matching in Aussie food and wine magazine, Selector, which put the art very simply; The whiter and brighter the cheese, the lighter and crisper the wine. The harder and darker the cheese, the darker and richer the wine. Regional pairings also work well, for example a goat’s cheese from the Loire Valley in France will pair well with a Loire Sauvignon Blanc.
Try these classic matches to impress friends with your wine and cheese knowledge!

Sauvignon Blanc
Soft goats or sheep’s milk cheeses
Chardonnay (oaked)
Creamy Brie or Camembert – fat food, fat wine!
Viognier, Gewurztraminer or Riesling
Sweeter cheeses like Swiss Emmental, Gouda or strong washed rind cheeses
Sticky sweet eg. Sauternes
Blue cheeses – mouldy cheese with rotted grapes!
Sparkling wine or Champagne
Hard cooked cheese like Parmesan or Gruyere
Pinot Noir or Cabernet
Lighter pressed cheeses like Gouda, Manchego
Mature, sharp, cheddar
Hard cooked cheese like Parmesan or Gruyere
Blue cheeses

 As a self-proclaimed wine and cheese aficionado (well, Friday night dabbler), here are a few of my favourite pairings:
Hardys Crest Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV Sparkling, £9.99, Tesco Wine, with a deli Parmesan
From the grapes used in a Champagne blend, this is full of intense strawberry flavour and plenty of bubbles - a scrumptious match for the hard, salty almost crystalline character of Parmesan.
Spring Vouvray Sec 2012, £9.95, The Wine Society*, with a salty Greek Feta. From the little loved Chenin Blanc grape and made in the Loire Valley in France, there is a generous apple flavour and lovely rounded and approachable style.

Pouilly-Fume 'Les Cascadelles' 2012, £10.99, Majestic Wines**, with a smoky goat's cheese. A benchmark Loire Sauvignon, this is zesty and crisp with citrus aromas and a smoky gunflint note. Well balanced acidity and minerality to complement the creamy, smoky goat's cheese.
Trivento Reserva Syrah, £9.50, Tesco Wine, with a mature Cheddar. Deep black fruit flavour with a little nutmeg and sweet spice, this powerful 14% red is a hit with a big flavoured Cheddar.

Campbells Rutherglen Muscat, £11.99, Waitrose, with a strong blue cheese like Stilton. Unique to the Rutherglen region of South Eastern Australia, this fortified is full of fresh raisin aroma, and is luscious and mouthfilling. Perfect for the strong, creamy Stilton.
For more great cheese and wine pairings - with a patriotic tick of approval - check out this great piece about Perfect Partners, put together by The British Cheese Board and English Wine Producers.

Cheers! Or should that be cheeeeese!

* Note that you do need to be a member to order from The Wine Society! Lifetime membership is a one-off payment of £40 **Note that minimum order is 6 bottles, but delivery is free when you spend £40

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