The best wines (and other drinks) to pair with a cheeseboard
Advertising feature: What wine would you pair with a cheeseboard? Red, I’m guessing, or maybe a port? But stop for a minute and think because it’s not just one cheese we’re talking about but three or four at least, which may range from a delicate goats cheese to a pokey blue.
So, assuming you’re not going to pour a different drink with each cheese, what do you do, especially If you’re a cheeselover? While bland supermarket cheeses cause few problems for wine (apart from being a bit boring), flavoursome farmhouse cheesescan strip the flavour out of them. But there are ways round it . . .
I’ve been helping Pipers Farm match drinks to their cheese boxes and have been drawing on the natural wines and ciders they stock, many of them from fellow West Country producers. Their cheeses also come from some of the UK’s best artisan cheesemakers upholding Pipers' mission to produce wholesome natural food that has been grown with respect for nature
So where should you kick off?
Red wines that go well with cheese
Let’s start with red wine as it’s the drink most people instinctively turn to with cheese. I look for ones that are soft, ripe and mellow, without powerful angular tannins that will clash with stronger cheeses. Rioja is a reliable go-to as are younger Spanish reds such as the Gran Cerdo I’ve picked to go with the Pipers Farm Big Cheeseboard Box which includes one of my FAVOURITE cheeses Baron Bigod or the attractive, easygoing French malbec I’ve chosen with the Cheese Feast Box which includes another of my great favourites, Tunworth. What I wouldn’t go for are fragile older wines that you’ve been hanging onto for a while. The French tend to think that you should serve your best red wine with the cheese but unless it’s a bottle you’ve already opened I tend to disagree. (Serve it with meat or game or, if you’re a vegetarian, a mushroom or pulse-based dish.)
But why not white wine?
Why indeed! Think of the fruit flavours you find in white wine especially orchard fruits like applea and pears. Do they go with cheese? Of course they do so why on earth shouldn’t you drink white wine with your cheeseboard? There’s one combination - goats cheese and sauvignon blanc - that works especially well but honestly white wine can work with cheddar too (try it with chardonnay) as well as other hard British territorial cheeses such as Caerphilly, Cheshire and Single and Double Gloucester. Or even with soft cheeses like Bix and St Jude (I’ve suggested the Bergecrac Blanc, a deliciously soft, appley blend of sauvignon and semillon with the Cheese Box for Two which should make you white wine lovers happy.
And let’s hear it for cider!
As anyone who’s ordered a ploughman’s will know beer is great with cheese but cider is arguably even better. Same logic as white wine above - we’re obviously talking apples again - but those of you who don’t regard it as a serious drink should think again.
There’s a brilliant new generation of artisanal British ciders that deserve a place on your dinner table not least cos they’re handsomely packaged in full-sized bottles. They’re also better than wine at taking any accompanying chutneys and pickles in their stride - and lower in alcohol too. Try the Wilding Ditcheat Hill cider and Pilton In Touch keeved cider I’ve recommended with the Cheese Feast and Big Cheeseboard boxes and see if you’re not converted!
Are there alternatives to port with cheese?
Most of us love a glass of port with our Stilton at Christmas but if you’re not a fan is there an alternative? You’d probably expect me to say yes and I won’t disappoint you! We’re talking apples (again. I know but we really underrate them) but this time in sweet drinks. Ice ciders and apple-based liqueurs work really well with stronger washed-rind cheeses and blues in a similar way to port. Try the Somerset Cider Brandy Co’s Kingston Black which I’ve recommended as a late night treat with the Cheese Box for two. I reckon it tastes like a liquid tarte tatin. Who could resist that?
This is an advertising feature in collaboration with Pipers Farm. If you’d like to order any of the cheese boxes, drinks or other products from their website they’ve offered a £10 discount on any order that is placed by November 14th 2021 if you use the code FIONA at the checkout. UK-based orders and over 18s only I’m afraid.
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