Heaven or Hell?
wine with cheese
This month's recipes feature dishes which revolve around wonderful cheeses. Now, if you can be confident of anything in wine and food matching, surely it's that wine and cheese are perfect partners…..or are they?
Cheeses run the gamut of styles: some are high in fat, some have a glue-like texture and some have pungent flavours that make a nonsense of serving them with any decent wine. When planning the cheese board for a dinner party it pays to follow a theme: choose a pared-down selection of cheeses that are sympathetic to the wine you are serving rather than providing a jack-of-all-trades assortment of soft, hard and blue.
This month's wine choices are all lovely in their own right, but will also make excellent partners for the right cheese. Specific suggestions follows each wine.
UK stockists are given, with prices in pounds sterling (approx £5=$8US)
Réserve Saint-Marc Sauvignon Blanc 1998
This French Sauvignon has a fresh grapefruit and lemon-scented nose, with just a hint of grassy character beneath. The palate has good ripe citrus, pear and apple fruit, medium body and a whack of grapefruit acidity that sharpens the finish. (Sainsbury £4.29)
Cheese match: goat's cheese; Dolcelatte; most cream cheeses
Dashwood Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 1999
New Zealand sauvignons often have more intensity than their reserved French cousins. This has a beautiful combination of leafy gooseberry aromas and pure, ripe lychee notes. It is fresh and stacked with zippy apple and lemon flavours along with glimpses of tropical fruit. (Oddbins/Victoria Wine £6.99)
Cheese match: crumbly Wensleydale; Pont l'Evêque; cheese soufflé
Marqués de Riscal Limousin Reserva 1996
The nose on this classy Spanish wine is wonderful, with aromas of buttery brazil nuts, melon and honeysuckle, peach and some cinnamon spice. On the palate the fruit is predominantly apple and melon, but it is buttressed by creamy oak and a toasty wrapping of nuts and herbal nuances. Lemon acidity keeps it sharp. (www.madaboutwine.com £7.99)
Cheese match: Parmesan; Spanish Manchego; Brie; Munster
Mas Saint-Vincent Coteaux du Langeudoc 1998
This wine captures sunny Southern French flavours with its wonderfully ripe, creamy, berry-scented nose dominated by raspberry aromas. On the palate it is packed with sweet, juicy fruit that has a firm, tart edge. The bright flavours are backed up with a little spice. (Oddbins £4.99)
Cheese match: Cheddar; mature Gouda; smoked cheeses
Sainsbury Crozes Hermitage 1998
From the very reliable co-operative at Tain. This is a well-priced Syrah with personality. The nose is very attractive with a gamy, charcoal edge to light berry fruit and a little creamy note. On the palate it is juicy and chewy, with lots of dusty, peppery black fruit. (Sainsbury £5.99)
Cheese match: Lancashire; mature Camembert; grilled goat's cheese
Louis Jadot Bourgogne "Couvent des Jacobins" 1997
Good Burgundy is never cheap. This wine has a depth of strawberry fruit wrapped in a cloak of damp earth, spice and vanilla. There are lovely nuances of tea and herbs. The palate displays fine tannins, but there's no shortage of tart raspberry and softer berry flavours. (Victoria Wine £8.49)
Cheese match: Mozzarella; immature Camembert; Langres; Epoisses