Some top beer and wine pairings for Cheshire cheese
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.
Maybe there’s a bit of auto-suggestion from the rich orange colour but red wine appeals to me more than white. The creamy Burgundian-style Chilean Chardonnay I was sent (Errazuriz Wild Ferment) didn’t really stand up to the cheese. A Vidal Syrah was a bit too powerful and a Louis Jadot Beaujolais too light but a Cairanne Côtes du Rhône Villages 2010 (from Marks & Spencer) was absolutely spot on.
I suspect other medium-to-full-bodied southern Rhone and Languedoc reds would match well too along with inexpensive Bordeaux and Rioja reservas. This is a classic British cheese which suits traditional wines. Vintage port (less sweet than younger ports) would also be a good choice as would a medium-dry madeira or a nutty amontillado sherry.
With Appleby's smoked cheddar I found a 2009 Villa Maria Marlborough Pinot Noir was a great match enhancing the almost bacony taste of the cheese. (I’m not a huge fan of smoked cheese myself but if you are a sweet-fruited pinot like this will ramp up the smoky flavours).
If you do fancy a white, as you well might with a white Cheshire, try a crisp fruity one. English whites such as Bacchus should pair well as should Côtes du Gascogne and dry German Riesling (not wines I had in my tasting line-up)
Beer is a good match for Cheshire too. I was also tasting a new range of beers from the Wild Beer Company and loved the combination of a very hoppy, almost orangey pale ale called Fresh with the basic Appleby's Cheshire. So other pale ales and bitters should work too. As should a medium-dry cider particularly if you accompanied the cheese with an apple chutney.
The main thing to remember is that I was tasting a particularly good artisanal example of Cheshire. More commercial versions will be much blander and therefore more easily overwhelmed by strong wines.
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