Top 10 Wine Cheeses

Cheese & wine; Wine & cheese.. such long-timers, you’d be hard pushed to know which one to put first. And for good reason. These old pals enjoy an honest & mutually-beneficial relationship where, if the right match is made, both sides strive to compliment & bring out the best in each other.  However, get it wrong & all sort of rifts break out, of varying levels of palate-bashing intensity. True to relationship form, there are no rules or set patterns: sometimes opposites attract, sometimes like-for-like bond.

Read on for our top 10 cheeses & their liquid soulmate (& some analysing of their chemistry)..

 

Brie

This creamy staple of any cheeseboard worth its biscuits is actually the most generous in terms of wine match; not a picky oozer. And it meets its match with the ever-obliging, equally as fickly-allied Riesling which dances its way through the cream & makes you want more. Of both. Works particularly well with a younger brie; if you’re feeling like going old, why not try a good old fashioned Chablis?

We recommend: http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/brie-de-meaux
or http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/brie-de-melun for a bit more maturity.

Brie, known as the Queen of Cheeses, has enjoyed many a regal endorsement over the years & used to be a necessity if paying tribute to the King; any other cheese simply wouldn’t do!

 

Comté

France’s biggest cheese produced. And for good reason; this delicious salty, nutty & well aged (preferably.. go for 24 months if you want the crystalline crunch!) cow’s cheese is the perfect accompaniment to a glass or 2. In fact it needs something with a bit of punch. And it should come as no surprise the best contender comes from the same region. A vin jaune from the Jura slips down a treat; it is both oxidative & intense.. in fact the 2 work so well together, I would argue they actually bring out respective bests.

We recommend: http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/comte-destive

Comté was one of the first cheeses to benefit from protected origin status, having been assigned its AOC (Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée) in 1958.

 

Crottin de Chavignol

If you’re going to go regional, stay regional.. wine & cheese are certainly no exception to this rule. Both ‘of the earth’, origin-specific products compliment each other like holly & ivy. For a taste of the Loire, try a fresh goat with a chilled glass of Sancerre & summon the magic carpet.

We recommend: http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/crottin-de-chavignol

Goats are not indigenous to France, they were herded over during Moorish invasions, so we’re effectively nibbling on a little bit of history with each mouthful of Crottin. (& sup of Sancerre)

 

Aged Gouda

Despite the conventional strong cheese-strong wine approach, sometimes ying & yang makes for wonderful palate-harmony. Try a softer red, like an Austrian Blaufrankisch – delicious & bursting with ripe fruit; it has enough structure to hold its own & yet gracious enough to not compete with old Gouda’s intensity.

We recommend: http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/gouda-boerenkaas-4-year

Dutch town Gouda became notorious for its weekly cheese-weighing competition; the old ‘waag’ (weighing house) is now a museum dedicated to.. cheese!

 

Époisses

For a cheese from France’s biggest wine-making region, this stinky gooey cheese washed down with a brandy made from pinot noir skins is surprisingly tricky to match (but being Burgundian we felt it couldn’t be missed off the list). Thankfully red burgundy does step up to the mark, but not your finest fare as you might expect. Go robust & rustic; a Beaune villages or a Beaujolais is needed to wash the lingering goo-goodness down. And it works!

We recommend: http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/epoisses

So pungent is the aroma of a mature époisses, it is allegedly banned from public transport in France.. feels a bit cheesist.

 

Camembert

This reassuringly rich & creamy cheese comes in many guises, often baked as a starter & infused with all sorts of spicy, nutty, fruity additions. The BEST news about this bloomy rinded number is that bubbles (be they champagne, cava, prosecco or whatever cremant takes your fancy) are the perfect companion. The acidity cuts through the cream & the fizz plays a merry textural game. (not that we needed an excuse)

We recommend: http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/camembert-fermier

Camembert’s luxuriously creamy nature has inspired many an author & artist: Salvador Dali’s ‘Persistence of Memory’ was concocted after some hearty gooey servings at dinner the night before..

 

Stilton

A powerful, salty & yet creamy cheese.. sounds like hard work for any wine to form a lasting relationship with. Until, that is, you have a glass of port in your hand. Stilton & port is one of those amazing couples; born in completely different parts of the world; strong, independent & even willful at times. Yet put them together & they just make sense. (Recommended even to those who wouldn’t naturally be drawn to either)

We recommend: http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/colston-bassett-stilton

Stliton’s legally protected recipe requires 78 litres of milk to make one 8kg round of crumbly goodness.. Given that it can only herald from 1 of 6 dairies, that’s some busy cows!

 

Manchego

Tapas bars always have a sensory mouthful trick or 2 up their sleeve, & pairing a historic cheese with a historic tipple is just that.  Manchego is about as origin specific you can get, made in Spain’s La Mancha region soley from Manchega sheep’s milk. Its flavour profile moves gradually from tangy to nutty to sweet, but always with a mark of acidity.. Sherry, with its rich & complex flavours, & varying levels of oxidization harmonises perfectly with the cheese in a way that once you taste the 2 together, there’ll be no going back! Funnily enough they both happen to be from the same part of Spain…

We recommend: http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/manchego

Manchego is extremely fortifying & nutritious, with a higher proportion of proteins than meat.. straight to the cheese course!

 

Cheddar

Often over-looked in all its ubiquity, our humble home-grown cow’s cheese has many guises & is well supported by a red Bordeaux, (which surprisingly few cheeses are) especially the older & more interesting it gets. Hard, aged cheeses need bold wines that aren’t going to be completely dominated; arguably a bold red needs the same food-wise.. reassuring to know all those gift-hampers got it right!

We recommend: http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/keens-cheddar

Cheddar was actually first discovered by accident: a forgetful milkmade left a pail of milk in Somerset’s Cheddar caves..

 

Tomme

This mountain cheese seems simple enough on the outside, but can be complex – with varying balances of fruit, nut, acidity & mushroom depending its exact origin & age. Alsacian gewurtzstraminer (especially with a Tomme d’Alsace) works well whichever way the mountain tolls on the day of eating. Its delicate balance of sugar & acidity brings out the best in the cheese & vice versa.

We recommend: http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/tomme-de-savoie

Tomme actually means small, roundish cheese, hence why it’s always followed by its origin; useful for wine pairing too, as fate would have it..

 

So there we have it: 10 pairs we feel justifiably go the distance. However, tastebuds are an individual bunch, so why not experiment at home.. if nothing else you’ll drink well & be left with quite the cheeseboard!

The Author

JF Tobias

JF Tobias

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