In the final part of his festive blog series, Master of Wine Nick Adams of WineTrust100 discusses what to drink with cheese and pudding at Christmas.
Another must have for Christmas! And is there anything more appealing than a great spread of cheese, on a board, on Christmas or Boxing Day? Sadly the great Turkish fig season is over by then to go with them, but look out for Fenland winter (white) celery – a classic savoury accompaniment – also quince paste or jelly is a fine partner.
The paradox of cheese is that for all its dairy richness the very product is itself very acidic, as souring the milk to start the whole process of production is essential to allow the milk to coagulate. Do not be deceived by the moorish richness – there lurks behind an acid grip! Therefore, an acidic, tannic red wine is actually what you don’t need to accompany it. You may be pleasantly surprised that a fuller bodied more weighty white wine actually works rather well – especially with nutty cheeses like Comté. A good example of this is the Sequillo White from Eben Sadie.
Otherwise trusted old favourites such as port and sweeter reds (eg the lovely Domaine de la Rectorie Banyuls, which also goes with chocolate by the way) work really well. For a good, rich port I would recommend the Quinta da Romaneira Late Bottle Vintage 2007. I happen to live not that far away from the superb Stilton dairy of Colston Bassett – my own personal favourite for this cheese.
They nearly always say when you buy directly from the dairy – and to paraphrase “this cheese has been made and matured at the dairy and is ready to be enjoyed right now” – and please do not pour port into it – by all means drink it with it – but they would all personally curdle at the dairy at the prospect of this direct blending!
Also old cheese tends to produce ammonia, especially blue cheese, you can just smell its acrid notes in an instant and it is a complete killer for any wine.
This includes soft white cheese by the way – letting a good Brie or Camembert run like Mo Farah is not a good combination with any wine! Also Roquefort is positively aged in salt, so beware no territory for any red wine, but wonderful with sweet whites (classically such as the sumptuous Château Laville Sauternes). Here endeth the cheese lesson! But please do read Kerstin’s (@MsMarmiteLover) excellent blog on cheese where she expands further on these themes.
Christmas Pudding & Desserts
And a final note on the seasonal favourite – The Christmas pudding. I would strongly recommend either the Domaine de la Rectorie Banyuls again or the rich and caramel nuanced Ben Ryé from the remote Italian island of Pantelleria. These also double up nicely with mince pies and Christmas cake. They are real multitaskers, being bold enough to work with chocolate desserts.
For other sweet sweets – and especially if they are caramelised (eg tarte tatin) then either (again) the excellent Château Laville Sauternes, or the truly hedonistic, world class, South African dessert wine Vin de Constance.
Nick Adams MW