Match of the week
Gruyère and 20 year old tawny port
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.
My favourite - partly because it’s one of my favourite styles - was a 20 year old tawny with a deeply savoury reserve (in other words, aged) Gruyère (bottom right) which brought out exotic quince notes in the wine. I also liked a salty Manchego which made the accompanying, slightly retiring 2002 Quinta de Vargellas port taste of Elvas plums.
As you’d expect a 10 year old tawny was a spot on match with a mature cheddar but more unexpectedly a very young ruby port (First Estate Reserve) went surprisingly well with a Bosworth ash log - like having a rich fruit compote on the side. The only combination I wasn’t really convinced by was a spicy 2010 late bottled vintage with a creamy Brillat-Savarin which needed a wine with more acidity.
Of course this is not typically the way you eat cheese - you’re much more likely to have a selection - and in my view the 10 year old tawny and late bottled vintage styles are the best all-rounders. But it does show that if you have a decent piece of Gruyère in the fridge you can nibble it as well as cook with it. Dry oloroso, as I discovered a few years ago, is also a good partner.
I was sent the ports and cheeses to try by Taylor's port and Paxton & Whitfield cheese.
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