Cheddar and Cab Sauv Anyone?
Christmas is all about tradition and just one of those old favourites is the cheese board, whether it’s an aperitif or an after dinner alternative to the sweet dessert. It’s an age old combination and there are few wine drinkers who don’t indulge in a little Christmas wine and cheese but that’s not because it’s an easy pairing – far from it. Just as there are an amazing variety of different types of wine, there is also a fantastic range of different cheeses to choose from.
Just like wine, the flavours of different cheeses change with age and some are meant to be consumed when young and fresh, whilst others acquire their individual taste through ageing. Cheese lovers may not find all types of cheese to their tastes and wine lovers may not like all types of wine. Finding a good balance of age and intensity of flavour is the key to finding the perfect Christmas wine and cheese pairing.
Crisp Christmas White Wines, Dry Rosés and Sparkling Wine
Young fresh cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Feta and Halloumi, tend to partner extremely well with a crisp, dry wines. The subtle flavours of these cheeses are perfectly offset by zesty, citrus wine flavours and bouquets. Our recommend pairings here would be as follows:
- South African Chenin Blanc – fresh citrus aromas, tropical lychee flavours and a nicely crisp finish
- Spanish Cava - if you fancy something dry and sparkly
- South African Shiraz Rosé – juicy strawberry and redcurrant flavours, a refreshingly crisp, dry rosé
Medium Bodied Whites and Fruity Christmas Red Wines
Slightly harder, medium aged cheeses go wonderfully with fruity Merlot and Chardonnay. Edam, Emmental, Gruyère, Medium/Mature Cheddar, and Manchego all have a stronger flavour than younger cheeses and are more salty. The fruitiness of the wine blends fantastically with the saltiness of the cheese. Our recommended wines with this category of cheeses would be:
- Californian Chardonnay – Juicy fruits, melon, butterscotch and sweet honey
- Chilean Merlot - Aromas of spice, black pepper and ripe blackberries. A rich palate, well balanced with delicately soft tannins and a wonderfully long finish
- Sparkling Grand Rosé – A sparkling sensation, bursting with bouquets of strawberry, fresh raspberry and cherry
Full Bodied Christmas White Wines and Tannic Reds
Full flavoured, hard and well-aged cheeses are best paired with either a white wine which is full bodied and sweet or a tannin rich, fruity red wine. Aged Cheddar, Gruyère or Parmigiano Reggiano fit into this category alongside flavoursome blue cheeses such as Stilton and Roquefort. The most applicable accompanying wines would be:
- Californian Zinfandel Rosé – Super fruity and wonderfully sweet, packed full of peach and berry flavours and aromas
- Californian Cabernet Sauvignon – Rich and full with ripe berry fruits and smooth tannins
A bottle of sparkling wine, from our dry Spanish Cava to our sweeter, lighter Prosecco will always go well with cheese which is just perfect for that pre-lunch aperitif or to settle you into a Christmas day afternoon of relaxing in front of the television or chatting with friends and family.
We hope there’s enough advice here to make you view your cheese board a little differently this year and to provide encouragement for you to try out some tasty wine and cheese combinations. As if you needed persuading?Merry Christmas!