We're getting ready for Christmas! Which means we're ordering our cheese...
There is a tendency to think that wine and cheese are a monogamous pair. Certainly, we can't deny that they do make a delicious duo (in fact our Christmas cheese and wine board is being revealed in a couple of weeks time). However, this year we wanted to suggest something a little different, to surprise and delight your friends and family. Particularly perfect for those wanting to train and test the taste buds with an alternative tipple!
We have joined up with the UK's first accredited pommelier (cider sommelier for those asking) and Queen of Cider, Jane Peyton and The Cheese Geek to give you your alternative Christmas Cheese board, this time featuring cider. Best enjoyed in our stemless JR glasses!
It's always best to start at the beginning: how did we go about pairing our ciders and cheeses? We followed Jane's golden rules, of course:
Co-ordinate: Think about the texture and density of food and match the cider accordingly, for instance, lighter foods with a light bodied cider.
Cut: Choose cider with either tannins and acidity, or both, to cut through texture, flavour, richness, and fattiness.
Complement: Cider that complements the flavours of the food. For instance, savoury cider with an umami rich food. Complement can also mean completing a dish missing a taste profile that would balance it.
Contrast: Choose a cider that is a complete contrast to the food. For example, sweet cider with salty food.
So without further ado, we proudly introduce you to your perfect Christmas Cider and Cheese board:
So many people we know who love Cheddar now call Poacher home. It is not hard to understand why: it gives you everything a great Cheddar should, but on top of that, another layer of deep burnt butter and nutty happiness. The Cheese Geek only serve the Vintage Poacher because the extra ageing just takes it onto another level, adding complexity and character as well as some lovely crunch.
A big flavoured cheese needs a big cider to match. Oliver’s Dabinett has the tannins and acidity to do just that.
Would it be Christmas without a slice of Brie de Meaux? (of course not!) The ‘King of Cheeses’ really steps into the spotlight over the festive season, gracing cheese boards around the world with its oozy texture and recognisable smell. An absolute classic and you can see why - with its rich, golden oozing centre held together by its bloomy white (sometimes rusty coloured) rind. Complex, earthy flavours of mushroom, damp leaves and butter that linger and leave you wanting more.
The cider has gentle bubbles and crisp acidity to cut through the texture of the cheese.
Cropwell Bishop Blue Stilton is an award-winning, traditional handmade cow’s milk Stilton that is made using methods that have changed very little since the 17th century. During its maturation of 12 weeks, Cropwell Bishop Stilton is rubbed with salt to develop a strong and rich but creamy cheese with a lingering tang. The flavours are strengthened by the blue mould veins that run throughout. The texture is velvety soft but firm, and the rind is brown and wrinkled, with a salty kicker.
The cheese is salty so we've matched it with sweet ice perry. Stilton and pears are delicious matches and The Wonder is made with Perry pears. Just like ice-wine is incredibly sweet so is ice perry because of the production process that concentrates the fruit sugars.
These ciders are pretty special, which means they can't always be found in your ordinary supermarket. We'd recommend The Fine Cider Company, a London Wine Merchant, specialising and sourcing the Finest Ciders and Perries around. If you need a hand finding similar ciders to ship outside of the UK, please do send us an email on email@example.com; we'd be happy to help!
For those asking, our cheeses are featured on Richard's favourite board brand: Hampson Woods. All Hampson Woods products are designed, handmade and finished in the UK – providing you with a warmth and longevity rarely found in today’s mass-produced marketplace.
Jane Peyton is a drinks educator and writer and founder of the School of Booze. She is the UK’s first accredited pommelier (cider sommelier).
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