Hold the port! Alternative christmas cheese and drinks pairings
Looking for cheese pairings with a twist this Christmas? Whitley Bay cheesemonger and International Cheese Awards judge Hannah Bramble of Crosby Loves Cheese lists seven of her favourite cheeses and the perfect tipples to partner them with
The age-old tradition of drinking Port with Stilton at Christmas was first enjoyed 300 years ago when the middle classes set the trend to show their wealth. This pairing lives on today, but there are many more incredible pairings that showcase this style of cheese. Chapel Down English sparkling wine is a surprisingly great pairing with Stilton-style cheeses including Stichelton, for example. Why not have a rummage through your drinks cabinet this Christmas and try out different drinks with your cheese board? Maybe you’ll find a new favourite friendship! Here’s some inspiration…
Brillat-Savarin This is named after French lawyer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, who became one of the most influential food writers of all time with The Physiology of Taste. Pair it with: Hop Stingo from St Mars of the Desert Brewery. Why it works: Brillat-Savarin is a triple-crème (made with full fat milk and cream) squidgy, alabaster cheese. Hop Stingo’s sharp, grapefruit notes cut through it, perking you up just as you’re submerged into the clotted cream flavour.
Langres Made in Champagne, this cheese might look like human brain tissue left out in the sun, but its wrinkly washed rind hides a soft, mellow gem of a cheese. Pair it with: Thompson & Scott Noughty organicalcohol-free sparkling wine. Why it works: Traditionally, a teaspoon of Champagne would be poured into the cheese’s dimple before it’s cut. Add Noughty instead, and its acidity and the butteryness of the cheese make this a true opposites-attract friendship.
Auld Reekie This cheddar-like cheese draws its smoky, distinctly Edinburgh flavour from the whisky barrel shavings scattered over cheesemaker Alex Reid’s smokehouse floor. Pair it with: Now in a Minute from Mad Dog Brewery Co. Why it works: While this cheese is tailor-made for a Royal Deeside single malt, you get a lovely umami jolt from this Welsh red ale’s citrusy hoppiness.
Morbier This slightly elastic, semi-soft cheese is made in Morbier near the French-Swiss border, where traditionally the morning milk would be ladled into the vat and covered with a layer of ash, and the evening milk layered on top later. Pair it with: Nikka From the Barrel Japanese whisky. Why it works: You may think Nikka is better suited to whisky-smoked Auld Reekie, but its sweet aftertaste perfectly compliments the subtle fruitiness of the Morbier. The result is little like a punchier – and yes, cheesier – crème caramel.
Ingot A lockdown creation by Martin Gott and Nicola Robinson, who took in the rare Golden Guernsey goats when the makers of Innes goat’s cheese retired, the name is drawn from a combination of their names – Innes-Gott: Ingot. Clever! Pair it with: Allendale’s Anvil IPA. Why it works: Ingot, with its delicate rind and soft, light paste starts out creamy with slight lactic notes. Add the citrusy ale into the mix and it’s hard to know where the cheese ends and the ale begins. Lemon posset springs to mind.
Stichtelton A Stilton-style cheese made on the edge of Sherwood Forest by Joe Schneider, unlike Stilton, this cheese is made from raw milk and all parts of it are edible. Pair it with: Micro Switch porter from Hop Dots Brew Co. Why it works: This is a complex blue cheese with a buttery paste, and its grainy rind throws a point of difference into the porter’s treacly sweetness.
Pevensey Blue Another lockdown concoction, this Gorgonzola-esque blue is made by Martin Tkalez and his partner Hazel Akehurst in East Sussex. Pair it with: Millionaire milk stout from Wild Beer Co. Why it works: The salty, hazelnut bite and low level metallic notes from the cheese combine with this chocolate-caramel stout to create a sumptuous liquid pudding.
Where to buy Cheeses, chats, upcoming pop-ups: Crosby Loves Cheese, Whitley Bay, www.crosbylovescheese.com