The third annual Great British Cheese Awards is well under-whey and this week, we’ll find out which brie-lliant producers have taken the curd crown. To celebrate, we’ve teamed up with Peter’s Yard and Great British Chefs, to run free cheese tastings in our shops on Sunday 21 October. Drop in from 3pm-6pm to try the winning cheeses, alongside wines and beers chosen to match.
Inspired to host your own cheese and wine party? Read on for our top cheese and wine pairing tips.
Cheese and wine matching
When approaching any kind of food and wine matching, a good starting point is to consider how intensely flavoured the dish you’re trying to match is and then aiming for a wine of equivalent power. For example, a big bruiser like Cabernet Sauvignon would completely overwhelm a delicate cheese like sweet, young Comté, but would get along very nicely indeed with a punchy mature Cheddar.
Similarly, light Pinot Noirs should be sipped with comparably delicate cheeses. The Les Athlètes du Vin Pinot Noir 2017 (£15) would work brilliantly with a Taleggio or Gruyere, as the sweet, nutty cheeses would complement, rather than conceal, the wine’s fine fruit notes.
Texture is another key consideration and – as with flavour – you’re looking for an affinity between the cheese and the wine. Harder cheeses like Parmesan and cheddar work well with more tannic red wines. Red Bordeaux is a classic example and the organic Château la Chapelle Maillard (£14) doesn’t disappoint.
Softer cheeses meanwhile are best with lighter, softer whites. Brie and Champagne is a good example; the fizz is delicate and smooth like the cheese, but its natural high acidity and bubbles also provide a pleasing, palate-cleansing freshness. Try the fruity and delicately floral Lucie & Sébastien Cheurlin Brut Champagne NV (£30) and a soft cow’s milk cheese.
Just as high acid white wines and creamy cheeses work well together because of the contrast between the two, so do salty and sweet flavours. There’s a real affinity between stinky cheese – anything blue, or in that style – and sweet wines. A bit of blue and a chilled glass of the Dom. de Carbonnieu Sauternes Half (£16.50) is a deliciously indulgent way to finish a meal.
For those of you who are lovers of chilli cheese, try that with an off dry rose and you won’t be disappointed!
If in doubt, look local – pair a cheese with a wine from the same region and more often than not, the two will be brilliant together. A great example is matching a fresh-tasting Loire goat’s cheese with one of the region’s excellent examples of Sauvignon Blanc, like the Le Bois Aux Biches Sauvignon Blanc (£9).