Pairings | Cheese
Ask most people what the best wine is with cheese and most would choose a full-bodied red. But is it really the best pairing? It depends on the wine, it depends on the cheese and it depends on you. If you LOVE red wine with cheese nothing is going to put you off the experience.
Wine and cheese are well known bedfellows but if you’re a beginner it might seem daunting to decide exactly which wine to choose for which cheese. This guide will quickly help you to get started pairing wine and cheese like a pro.
We automatically think of matching wine and cheese or beer and cheese but there are many drinks that work just as well and can give a real ‘wow factor’ to your cheeseboard.
As with most cheeses the ideal wine pairing for cheddar depends how mature it is. A mild to medium block cheddar is going to be a lot easier to match (and in most cheeselovers’ eyes a lot less interesting) than an aged cloth-bound cheddar of 18 months or more.
Since goats cheese and Sauvignon Blanc are such a great match it might seem redundant to think of anything else but despite its reputation for being . . . well . . . goaty, goats cheese is easy to pair with other wines.
The best wine to pair with macaroni cheese, or macaroni and cheese as our friends across the pond have it, depends how fancy - and how cheesy - your mac and cheese is.
I’d been aware that cheese was a good match for whisky but it was good to have the opportunity to try several different styles and cheeses at a tasting recently.
You know how difficult it is to find a good wine and cheese match? Well here are five I’ve recently tasted that hit the spot perfectly. Four were at a tasting at the recent Bristol Wine Fair that was conducted by the food and wine writer Andrea Leeman. The other was a serendipitous one I came across the other night when we were eating with friends.
What on earth do you drink with Époisses and France’s other famous stinky washed-rind cheeses such as Pont-l'Évêque, Maroilles, Munster and Langres? The problem is that the more mature and stinky you like your cheese, the tougher it will be on any wine you pair with it.
Cheese and wine is a notorious minefield but is it any easier when the cheese is cooked? See my suggestions to match Mark Hix's delicious recipes in the Independent today:
I’ve recently had the chance to taste through a range of wines and beers with Cheshire - Appleby’s Cheshire to be exact - so the hits and misses are fresh in my mind. As you probably know it’s a British territorial cheese with a crumbly texture and mellow flavour but quite a firm bite.
Even if you're not currently on the slopes you might want to take your chance to make one of the great ski-food classics, fondue, raclette or tartiflette.
I have to thank my colleague drinks writer, wine guru and good time pal Kate Hawkings for this week's pairing. Once she squealed excitedly about it on Twitter I knew I had to drop by her restaurant (Bellita) and give it a try.
Roquefort cheese is unusual in having such a frequently recommended wine match (Sauternes) that you may wonder if it’s worth drinking anything else but depending how you serve it there are a number of other options.
People occasionally ask me my favourite cheese - an impossible question but Vacherin Mont d’Or is certainly up there in the top 5.
The type of artisanal cheddar I was writing about yesterday - mature, full-flavoured, unpasteurised - isn’t the easiest cheese to match with wine.
Having spent a few days in the Auvergne recently and eaten more than my fair share of Saint Nectaire cheese with a variety of wines, mostly natural, here’s what I think works best.
Although it seems similar in style to Brie, Camembert is a trickier cheese to pair with a slightly funky edge that can clash with many wines, particularly reds.
Caerphilly - or, to be more precise - Gorwydd Caerphilly which is made by my friends Trethowan Brothers - is probably the cheese I know best. And there’s one absolutely outstanding match for it . . .
Tokaj or Tokaji Aszu from Hungary is one of the most historic and delicious dessert wines which now has it’s own dedicated day on December 10th but if you’re looking for the ideal food pairing you can take it much further than the dessert course.
One of the world's most popular cheeses, Brie can be mild and slightly chalky or decadently gooey and quite strong in flavour so you need to adapt the wine - or other drink - you choose to how mature the cheese is.
Following my trip to Islay a while ago I drew up some pairings for its extraordinary peaty whiskies. I’m not a great one for whisky dinners but I like the idea of serving tapa-sized dishes with a dram.
This week I was at Heathcotes Brasserie in Preston, Lancashire for a wine dinner for which I’d had to devise the wine matches. Paul Heathcote, the chef, is an old sparring partner and obviously thought he’d put me on the spot by coming up with some challenging dishes.
The question I’m often asked at this time of year is what makes the perfect Christmas cheeseboard. It’s as difficult a question as what makes the perfect Christmas lunch.
Cognac pairs with chocolate, we all know but what about cheese? Surprisingly there are some standout matches as I discovered when I chaired the cheese workshop at the 2014 International Cognac Summit in France a couple of years ago.
An archived article, first published in 2008, about how great cheddar is made and the difference between Keen's and Montgomery
When you think how well apples go with cheese it’s amazing that cider isn’t the automatic go-to for a cheese board but as we discovered at Cheese School* earlier this month some work better than others with particular styles of cheese.
An archive post from a fascinating tasting with maître fromager, educator and author Max McCalman, one of the US's foremost cheese experts, back in 2009.
I was wondering which cheeses to suggest putting together for a Burns' Night cheeseboard and luckily thought to ask Patricia Michelson of London's famous La Fromagerie who came up with this brilliant selection.
Today my son Will and I did an artisan cheese and craft beer tasting at the Great British Beer Festival to promote our new book An Appetite for Ale (due out at the end of September. Hint.) It seemed to go down well so I thought it might be something you’d enjoy trying at home with your friends.
The cheese ball is an American party food classic. It's a little retro, but retro food is fun, and a cheese ball is the kind of thing you can easily posh up and adapt to use your favourite cheeses, herbs, and seasonings.
Those of you who are lucky enough to live in Oz have the enticing prospect of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival coming up next month - a two week extravaganza of feasts, workshops and tastings with some of the country's top foodies and wine experts.
If you’re a fellow cheese fan I hope you’ll forgive me blowing my own trumpet and pointing you to my latest book Fiona Beckett’s Cheese Course. Actually I don’t feel too bad about it because at least half its appeal is its quite gorgeous photography (by Richard Jung) and I can’t claim credit for that!
With all the fuss about oysters and Guinness and boiled bacon and cabbage you may overlook what must be one of the best ways of celebrating St Patrick’s Day: an Irish cheeseboard.
Chef Shaun Kenworthy reports on what he believes to be a unique tasting of Indian wine and Indian cheese.
There are two wine pairings for blue cheese that are so famous that you may not think beyond them: port and stilton and roquefort and Sauternes. But does that mean that you have to drink sweet wine with blue cheese?
Cheese is possibly not the first ingredient that comes to mind in terms of a Valentine’s Night celebration but think again and you realise there's no shortage of suitable candidates.
I’ve always had a bit of a problem finding cheese matches for red Bordeaux. Cheddar is often suggested but I find mature versions have too much ‘bite'. Stilton slays it and so do most washed rind cheeses, oozy Camemberts and Bries . . .
Despite my passion for cheese I’ve long been a believer that you don’t need to lay on a massive cheese board to enjoy it. You can just as easily (and more cheaply) serve a cheese plate.
Yesterday I visited my local deli* which had - as it often does - a visiting producer handing out samples. In this case it was a Shropshire producer called Moydens which makes a delicious gooey blue called Wrekin Blue.
Cheese and champagne might not sound like natural bedfellows but if you think about the pairing for a moment you immediately realise they have quite a thing going. Many canapés - like gougères and cheese straws - are made with cheese for example and go wonderfully well with champagne but what about individual cheeses?
While I can usually find a great match for an individual cheese or for a careful selection it’s always a struggle to find a wine - particularly a red - that will take on all-comers. But I was reminded this weekend just how good a candidate mature Zinfandel is for this job. We found a bin end of Ridge’s Geyserville 2000 on the wine list of one of our favourite local restaurants at such a good price that we couldn’t resist it.
Last night I went back to The Greenhouse for the first time since its revamp, for dinner with its owner Marlon Abela and his head wine buyer Jean-Marc Heurlière.
If you're hosting a Hallowe'en supper this week and wondering what to put on the cheeseboard, here are a few suggestions.
It’s not only Roquefort and Sauternes that pair well together, other sheeps cheeses and sweet wines match well too as I discovered at the Evening of Cheese event I hosted at The Butlers Arms in Sutton Coldfield on Sunday
Cheese is so inextricably linked in my mind with beer and wine I sometimes forget there are other delicious pairings out there but coffee? Well, actually yes.
It’s still not widely recognised that white wines have the capacity to age, particularly wines that are noted for their freshness and bright acidity so it was fascinating to try a range of older wines from the Centre-Loire yesterday with a range of different cheeses.
Given what a tremendously difficult year it’s been we thought you deserved a treat so we’re giving away TWO prizes this month thanks to our very generous sponsors. (You’ll have to wait a couple of days for news of the other one!)
Last week I hosted a tasting for Wines of Rioja at Cambridge Wine Merchants. You never know quite how these things are going to work out on the day but happily most of the matches were spot on.
If you’re making a dish as simple as fondue you need to use top quality cheese. Emmental and Gruyère are traditional but once you’ve got the hang of it you can play around with other alternatives.
Whenever I see a producer is about to pair their best wine with cheese my heart sinks, particularly if the cheese is ripe and the wine red. But on this occasion - a tasting and lunch at the Quality Chop House - it worked.
I spend a lot of my time trying to discourage people from drinking their favourite red wine with a cheeseboard because it's so often a disappointment but every now and again you come across a red wine and cheese combination that really works.
We tend to get stuck in a bit of a groove when it comes to serving cheese, picking five or six and serving them on a big cheeseboard but if you’re serious about trying to find a good wine match that isn’t the best strategy.
Hard sheep cheeses are the winelover’s friend.
After last week's Muscat pairing my match of the week oddly involves Muscat again, this time a sweet Muscat Petits Grains from South Africa with the romantic name of Heaven-on-Earth. The grapes are apparently dried on a bed of straw and rooibos tea, a flavour I couldn't really pick up in the wine but it was very attractive nonetheless with an lovely quince and apricot flavour.
A classic starter from the ‘70’s but one that our customers seem to enjoy every bit as much today. This version originally came from a book called Take Twelve Cooks and was one of Pru Leith’s recipes. However Stephen Bull attributes it to Peter Kromberg of Le Soufflé at the Intercontinental who was also featured in the book . . .
Last week I had the greatest cheese and wine tasting I’ve ever experienced conducted by France’s most famous affineur Bernard Antony who supplies cheese to most of France’s top chefs. You’ll have to wait till the article comes out in Decanter in a couple of months’ time for the full details but here’s a star match to whet your appetite.
Those of you who visit the site regularly will know that I’m a great advocate of drinking white wine with cheese and a bit of a sceptic about how well red wine pairs with it.
You know that port goes with Stilton, right? Well, here’s another good variation on the pair-sweet-wines-with-blue-cheese rule: a glass of Vin Santo and a creamy Gorgonzola.
It’s always a bit of thrill to come across a cheese you don’t know especially when you’re bowled over by it as in the case of the Napoleon ewes milk cheese I tasted at the Plaimont pop-up wine bar in Marciac, in south-west France last week. (It's the one at the top of the board in the picture above.)
I don’t often pair red wine with cheese, let alone make it my match of the week but the Italian cheeseboard I had the other day at Bocca di Lupo in Soho proved a great pairing for a highly unusual Provencal red
As those of you who are familiar with this site will know I’ve got issues about drinking red wine with cheese. It may seem an obvious partnership but all too often it seems a warring one.
I really didn’t know which match to choose from the spectacular 10th anniversary dinner which Sipsmith held in their distillery last week. Most of the pairings were cocktails (I also loved the combination of roast Iberico pork fillet with a Red Cat, an invention of master distiller Jared Brown’s*) but I’m going to go for the line-up of four cheeses which was paired with four different gins
This is the kind of recipe (or rather idea) that I used to put on my old blog The Frugal Cook. But as I’ve given up on it (I know - I shouldn’t have done) I’m posting it here.
It’s been a very cheesy few days this past week - and I mean that in the sense of being cheese-focussed rather than corny.
Despite the freak flurries of snow and sub arctic temperatures last week spring has officially arrived and with it longer daylight hours and a switch to lighter eating. For me there’s no combination that reflects the season better than goats' cheese and Sauvignon Blanc, one of the great classic food and wine pairings.
I was beginning to think we’d managed to skip winter this year before last week’s icy blasts and snow came as a timely reminder we’ve got a good few weeks to go yet. So there’s still time to enjoy one of winter’s great favourites - a Swiss cheese fondue.
I suppose I shouldn’t say this coming from the West Country but I often forget about cider when I’m thinking about cheese pairings. Not that I don’t enjoy it but there always seem more complex drinks with a wider range of flavours to experiment with.
Despite the fact that white and sweet wines go just as well with cheese as red wine the idea persists that red is the better pairing
This is one of the many enticing recipes in The Orchard Cook, a beautifully illustrated book I was sent by photographer and food writer Stuart Ovenden and which provides inspiring ideas as to what to do with autumnal fruits such as apples, pears and quince.
We’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week and two bottles - both Syrah - have impressed me for very different reasons. One was an inexpensive but characterful Ressac Vin de Pays d’Oc Syrah which we bought from the co-op at Florensac, Vinopolis, after eating at their showcase restaurant Bistrot d’Alex which I’ve mentioned on the site before. The other a much classier bottle called Clos du Fou (the 2004 vintage) from a local Faugères winemaker Château des Estanilles which bore comparison with a Côte Rôtie.
This might not have been the best match of the week - that honour goes to the turbot and orange wine pairing I experienced at Ellory which I’ve already written up here - but it’s the one that’s easiest to replicate at home.
We Brits don’t have a long tradition of washed-rind cheeses but we have a true champion in the aptly named Stinking Bishop, which shot to worldwide fame when it was featured in the Wallace & Gromit film. But can any wine (or other drink) stand up to it?
The other evening I had an interesting session with a few food bloggers matching Davidstow cheddar for which I’d been asked to come up with some drink pairings*. My task was to talk about the wine. The company’s Head Grader Mark Pitts-Tucker brought along a couple of Cornish ales - Sharp’s Doombar and St Austell Tribute.
This is the most interesting and original wine and cheese pairing of the four* I devised for my talks at the Bristol Wine and Food Fair over the weekend. I wanted to come up with a variation on the usual port and Stilton combo and this was it.
A fabulously summery recipe from the very appealing Great British Farmhouse Cookbook - perfect for this time of year.
Of all the things I eat at Jose Pizarro's lovely tapas bar José, the croquetas are my favourite. Here's a recipe for the spinach ones from his brilliant book Basque.
A lovely serving suggestion from Trine Hahnemann's inviting book Scandinavian Christmas. The preserved plums couldn't be simpler.
It is absolutely worth making these addictively moreish, light crumbly cheese straws which were served at my son Will’s pub The Marquess Tavern back in the noughties and which I included in my book An Appetite for Ale (which you can currently pick up for an absurdly low price on Amazon.)
This match last week at 45 Jermyn St had EVERYTHING going for it starting with a decadent toasted cheese sandwich lavishly scattered with grated white truffle. What could be better? Well, actually a glass of very decent champagne (Louis Roederer Brut premier) with it - one of those matches made in heaven where the whole is better than the sum of the parts.
We’ve been feasting on figs from our neighbours' fig tree in Grau d’Agde down in the Languedoc this weekend - all the more satisfying as I gather that back home Waitrose is currently selling them at 99p each.
If you’ve been doing your duty by British cheesemakers you may well have a few odd pieces lurking in your fridge you couldn’t bring yourself to throw away and which are now past their best.
After a recent visit to the Jura I've rethought my ideas about which wines make the best wine pairings for Comté cheese.
Visitors to this website will be used to my recommending white wine with cheese by now but I didn’t anticipate how good this particular combination would be.
Epoisses has to be one of the most difficult cheeses to match, not least when it gets to the almost liquid stage shown in this photo (a stage too far IMHO)
The hardest cheeses to match are washed rind cheeses - those stinky, orange rinded ones like Epoisses - but last week I found a new pairing: a 3 year old cider brandy.
The Bordeaux wine region produces a multitude of top class red wines that these days tend to be blends of four main grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Last week we had one of our periodic Cheese Schools - an event where we explore the best artisanal British cheeses and pair different drinks with them. A regular feature is a beer vs wine ‘smackdown’ but I sneaked in this amazing Blenheim Superb dessert cider* from Once Upon a Tree with the pud.
Two matches for the price of one this week - both killer pairings at our Christmas Cheese School* last week.
There were many great pairings to pick from in Chablis last week but the one I’m going for is a cheese I was relatively unfamiliar with: Soumaintrain
I don’t know about you but I’ve massively changed the way I shop for food this year. I still go to my favourite food shops in my home town of Bristol (we have some fantastic bakeries and I must go to my local greengrocer Reg the Veg at least three times a week) but like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been shopping more online too
No Christmas would be complete without a slice of Stilton or its unpasteurised cousin Stitchelton. But what to drink with it? The usual answer is port - and that of course is classic - but here are some other drinks that make great pairings
Having been on Islay for the jazz festival all weekend I've been thinking about nothing but whisky and jazz but there is as good a combination : Islay whisky and strong blue cheese
Vermouth probably isn't the first thing you would think of pairing with cheese but this combination I enjoyed at our local wine bistro Flinty Red in Bristol the other night was just dazzling.
With the icy weather it’s been a week for staying duvet-wrapped indoors as much as possible so I haven’t encountered my usual range of stimulating food and wine matches but this was a top one, facilitated by my friends Todd and Jess of cheesemongers Trethowan's Dairy.
Port and cheese is one of those combinations that hardly needs questioning but there are some variants on the theme that still have the ability to surprise as I discovered when I worked my way through a selection of Taylor's ports and Paxton & Whitfield cheeses the other day.
Cheese and wine is always a bit of a minefield so it’s good to find a partnership that works really well. This was one of six pairings laid on for the launch of the Bristol Wine and Food Fair which takes place next month (and at which I’m holding a number of Cheese and Wine Masterclasses, so do come along).
It’s not often that food and drink that goes together perfectly turns up at exactly the same time but serendipitously I was sent a selection of delicious meads last week just as my order of blue cheese from The Courtyard Dairy arrived.
With the first serious snow of the season you may be craving après-ski food but lack the time, energy or ingredients to rustle up a fondue or tartiflette.
I know we always think in terms of wine and cheese but sometimes other drinks can be just as good, if not better. Like this week’s pairing of medium-dry cidre traditionnel and Camembert I came across at a simple roadside restaurant just north of Domfront in Normandy.
If I were to tell you I was seriously excited about the pairing of a supermarket sherry with a supermarket cheese you'd probably think I'd totally lost it - but hang on a moment.
If you've ever toyed with the idea of buying a wood-fired oven Genevieve Taylor's new book The Ultimate Wood Fired Oven Cookbook should persuade you. (And it didn't even cost a fortune. She built it herself!)
The sharp-eyed among you will notice that my recommendations have changed since I posted this article earlier today. I've revised my opinion since retasting Cornish Blue which I found in my local deli - Arch House Deli.
If you're a fan of the iconic St John in Smithfield you'll have no doubt had their rarebit at some point and here's how to make it (if you can work out what 'a very long splash' of Worcestershire sauce is!)
If you fancy baking something easy for the family this weekend try this delicious savoury bread from Claire Thomson's just-published National Trust Family Cookbook.
This weekend I’ve been down at my favourite food festival in Dartmouth where I’ve been giving a number of wine talks. One of them was a forum on food and wine matching with wine writer and TV presenter Susy Atkins and former sommelier and wine supplier Tim McLoughlin-Green of Sommelier’s Choice.
This week's pairing is for all those of you who are having a dry January this month (although here’s why I’m not).
While orange wines are becoming more common I’m still not sure most people know when and with what to drink them so here’s a pairing that worked really well from a dinner I hosted for Bar Buvette, one of my favourite Bristol haunts, last week.
I've taken recently to combining my salad course and cheese course. Over the years, influenced by the time we've spent in France, we've picked up the habit of following our main course with a salad and nowadays I prefer - and it's cheaper - to eat one cheese at a time.
I’ve been researching a big feature on perry over the last few days sothat's what this week's pairing had to be. And by that I don’t meanwhat is popularly called pear cider but a cider-like drink that is madewith real perry pears.
Now here’s a wine pairing with pasta I didn’t wholly expect. The sauce - a gift from a neighbour - was a creamy gorgonzola one to which I added (just to make it fractionally more healthy ;-)) some steamed broccoli I had left in the fridge. (Well, it was raw but I steamed it!)
This is one of those rare weeks where I’ve come across four brilliant pairings that could have made the ‘match of the week’ slot but as it’s St Patrick’s Day tomorrow and I haven’t done a beer for a while I’ll go for the topical one.
I’m a bit obsessed with orange wine* at the moment. It seems to go with so many things not least blue cheese as this match with gorgonzola at Le Baratin in Paris underlined.
It’s always a bit hairy doing a live food and wine pairing if you haven’t had a chance to have a run-through first - and even if you have some variable, usually the food, invariably changes.
I ordered this amazing soup at one of my favourite local Bristol restaurants Wallfish (now Wallfish & Wellbourne) and begged the recipe from the chef, Seldon Curry. It's tastes like the sweetest of oniony fondues and is soooo delicious.
Like many of Sabrina Ghayour's fans I've been hugely looking forward to her new book Bazaar which brings her vibrant cooking style to vegetarian food. You'll need to get a copy of your own (unless you're a subscriber and stand to win one if you're lucky) but here's a taster.
The port and Stilton combo has become a bit of a cliché. Not that it doesn't work - it's hard to fault - but if you want to really impress your guests and take them out of their comfort zone, serve your stilton with a shot of sloe gin instead. It has much the same brambly flavour as a Late Bottled Vintage port but, despite being stronger, manages to taste lighter, fresher and less alcoholic.
With just over three weeks to Christmas - and even less time to order the Christmas wine if you haven’t already done so - it’s time for us laggards to focus on what we’re going to be drinking and that’s what I’m going to be doing this week.
The last few days I’ve been eating and drinking my way around Piedmont - the perfect time of year as the region’s fabled white truffles are in season.
After the excesses of the Christmas period I always reckon January drinking should be about quality rather than quantity with a small sip of something strong and flavourful being infinitely preferable to several glasses of something weak and bland.
Today, if you weren’t aware, is the first day of Organic September, a month-long celebration of organic food and drink. So maybe a good opportunity to explore organic wine.
There have been a lot of great veggie cookbooks this summer but one of the most useful is Genevieve Taylor's Charred which finally empowers vegetarians to enjoy barbecues as much as meat eaters. That said this isn't the recipe in the book that makes the most extensive use of the grill but it's such a sublime combination of ingredients it's really summer on a plate.
A simple lunch of quiche from leftovers thrown together from the fridge turned into a feast with a glass of Claire and Fabien Chasselay's Fleurie La Chapelle des Bois, an organic Beaujolais from the excellent 2009 vintage.
The other day I won a selection of Pieminister pies in a raffle and as my husband was away rather sneakily found myself scoffing them for supper (until guilt set in and I put the rest in the freezer). As I also had some beers to taste from a new Marks and Spencer range I decided to pick one to partner with each pie and the combination that really impressed me was their London Porter with the Pieminister ‘Moo and Blue’ (aka steak and Stilton).
We’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week, revisiting some of the winemakers we haven’t seen for a while. They included Domaine de l’Arjolle, one of the first wineries we bought from when we bought a holiday home down here in the early 1990s.
There’s only one pairing I could focus on this week given that I was in Piemonte and that is white truffles. What was the best match? Incredibly hard to say!
It’s not often that you come across a wine match that’s as successful as it’s unexpected but sommelier Ruth Spivey’s pairing of a fruity Monferrato chiaretto rosato (aka rosé) from Piedmont with a dish of burrata, pressed watermelon and pickled fennel at Arbutus the other night was spot on - and all the more impressive given that she hadn’t had a chance to taste the combination beforehand.
Last week I was in Piemonte exploring the world of vermouth with Roberto Bava of Cocchi. I discovered many startlingly good pairings about which more about in due course but the one I was most intrigued by was their Alta Langa sparkling wine with pizza, not a combination I would have expected at all.