The French and Italians may eat much more cheese than we the British do, but as individuals we eat and enjoy a far greater variety. The average French or Italian person tend to stay loyal to the many superb farmhouse cheeses of their locallity or region and may only eat on a regular basis three or four different cheese types throughout their lifetime.
Like our wine habits the British have no such loyalties or inhibitions – one week we could be eating soft or goats cheese from a variety of different European countries, another week we will be sampling blue or hard cheeses from as far away as Canada, Australia or New Zealand.
But, are we the Britsh eating the best? For there is cheese and there is artisanal and handcrafted cheeses. Is the answer in the word choice?
Artisanal and handcrafted cheeses offer inspiring flavours, textures and noble subtleties that many supermarket cheeses don’t begin to approach. Despite the huge dominance of factory produced cheses, there are now (thank God) many more specialist independants than there were say ten or fifteen years ago promoting high quality individual cheeses from UK, Ireland and Continental farmhouses, often supplying splendid and unique wines to match. I would say today unlike any time in the past the combined choice of fine cheeses and wine is now simply enormous.
The more we support the INDEPENDANTS, the greater the variety and availability of these natural and very flavoursome cheeses will become, as well as sound advice and of course personal service. The more choice we have the better for everyone.
Cheese is a fascinating subject and shares a long list of similarities with wine. Cheese like wine, is fermented to create a product very different and infinitely more intricate than the original basic material it’s produced from. Like wine, cheeses age until they reach their level of maturity and perfection, then of course they can travel downhill.
Similar to red wine and port, to maximize flavours cheese must be brought to room temperature before it is served. Cheeses come in many different styles, each with their own unique set of characteristics and some specialist cheeses can take years to mature. Again good wines have their own unique styles, characteristics and also take many years to mature.
France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland have controls and appellations of origin for cheese, just as they do for wine. Farmstead cheese made from the milk of the cheese makers own animals is comparable to chateau or estate bottled wine made from the winegrower’s own grapes.
Despite the above similarities highlighted and despite the widespread belief that cheese and wine are great friends and natural partners, matching them is not at all simple. The perception that cheese has to go with red wine or port is not correct. In fact, the the wine that often works best is white, not red, and often sweet, not a dry white wine. But, selecting the right cheese for a good red wine can lead you to heaven, or to some other wonderful place.
Matching wine with cheese can also be very personal as people do have different taste requirements and perceptions. For example one may like dry soft goats cheese, but dislike a salty blue cheese. A very sound rule to note, is that a good cheese will make an average wine seem even greater, while an average cheese will most definitely spoil a great wine
Go to www.ahadleigh-wine.com/cheese/ and visit our section specialising in matching over one hundred cheese types with wine. You can search by imputing your own cheese preference, or select via a milk type option, or scroll down our huge selection from around the World. I am sure you will find this application most helpful.
Further enjoy the process of seeking natural partners by reading soon my next article which helps take the complexity out of the selection process. The article will give examples of matching five generic groups of cheeses with generic groups of wine partners
TO BE CONTINUED SOON
Happy Cheese Days