Pairings | Sheep's 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.
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.
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.
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.
Given that it’s the run-up to Christmas I’ve been tasting (yes, tasting, not drinking!) a lot of port recently so have had some indulgent bottles to hand when the cheese comes out.
Hard sheep’s cheeses are the winelover’s friend.
Despite the growing concern about alcohol levels in wine many reds still clock in at 14.5% or more, a level at which they can become an unbalanced pairing for traditional European food. Many traditionalist would say that they are therefore not ‘food wines’ but as with other types of wine it depends how well they’re made and whether overall the wine is in balance. Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe for example rarely hits the shelves at under 14% but wears its alcohol lightly.
We rarely think of tawny port as a flexible pairing for food. We serve it with stilton, obviously and with hard cheeses like cheddar, with nuts and dried fruits and over Christmas with fruit cake and mince pies but that’s usually as far as it goes.
The other night I was lucky enough to go out with a wineloving friend of mine and his wife who brought along a bottle of Château Palmer 1990 with them. It was a lovely wine but, as any 20 year old vintage would be, quite delicate so immediately created the dilemma of what to eat.
None of you, I’m sure, can have failed to notice just how many different bottles of rosé are now available on the average supermarket shelf. From being purely a summer wine there are now rosés for almost every type of food and occasion.