We take it for granted that wine is a great match for cheese but they don’t always hit it off as well as you’d expect. Red wines in particular can clash horribly particularly if you partner them with salty blues or very strong sticky-rinded cheeses like Epoisses or Munster. Here are some bottles that may do a better job and some tips about how to spare your best reds:
* Don’t put too many cheeses on your cheeseboard. Two or three well chosen cheeses are easier to match than 5 or 6. The easiest cheeses to match are young goats’ cheeses, medium matured hard British regional cheeses like Cheshire and Red Leicester and hard sheeps cheeses like Manchego or Ossau Iraty
* With individual cheeses dry white wines can be a surprisingly good choice. Sauvignon Blanc for example goes really well with goats cheese while an oaky Chardonnay can be an enjoyable match with a good cheddar.
* Reds that go well with cheese are soft fruity reds without too much oak influence particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or blends of the two and aged (i.e. older) wines particularly mature Spanish reds such as those from Rioja and Navarra and figgy southern Italian reds like Copertino.
* Sweet wines can be absolutely delicious with blue cheese. Sauternes and Roquefort is the classic pairing but experiment with other combinations.
* Port is always associated with Stilton but in fact goes well with a wide range of cheeses. For a change try a 10 year old tawny port rather than a brambly Late Bottled Vintage or Vintage Character port. A nutty amontillado or dry oloroso sherry can be fantastic too.
* If you do find a cheese clashing with the wine you’re drinking removing the rind generally helps
* Look after your cheese. Eat it within a couple of days of buying it and don’t allow semi-soft cheeses like Camembert and Brie to get too ripe and runny. Serve cheeses at room temperature not straight from the fridge
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