It's not all red and done when picking a partner for cheese
A s in all matters of taste, the topic of wine and food comes with its share of controversy and debate. And where it's especially heated is on the subject of matching wine and cheese.
There are certain wines and foods that delight the taste buds when mixed. Wine seeks relationships with the finer ingredients in life, yet many have a tough time making a partnership with cheese.
Red is the perceived correct choice but some cheeses can make a good red wine dull and lifeless. If you love to end a meal with a cheese platter, balance the flavours of your wines and cheeses carefully. The stronger the cheese, the more intense its partner should be. But remember that balance isn't about matching like with like, in fact, it can be as different as chalk and cheese.
And as with all advice about wine, also remember the golden rule – there is no golden rule. It's what you like that's right. As Oz Clarke says: "Give me a rule and I'll break it. When I see the proliferation of publications laying down rules as to what wine to drink with what food, I get very uneasy and have to quell a burning desire to slosh back a Grand Cru Burgundy with my chilli con carne."
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Among the cheeses commonly associated with red wine are blues such as roquefort and creamy cheeses such as camembert. However, the creaminess of the cheese can be drowned out by the flavour of the reds' tannins. Soft, creamy cheeses coat the palate with a layer of soluble fat, meaning, even if you are drinking an excellent red, you will lose some of its flavour.
Instead, a lighter white such as sauvignon blanc or pinot gris can be a magic combination and, if you're feeling really decadent, match soft, creamy cheeses with extra-dry Champagne and the effervescence will clean the fats from the palate.
If you insist on red with your cheese platter, choose a concentrated, rich red such as amarone della valpolicella. This Italian dry red is made from air-dried grapes and can stand up to the most pungent cheeses including parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino.
A cheaper alternative is ripasso di valpolicella made in the same region.
A perfect partner at any restaurant or at a dinner party is port and creamy blue cheese.
A non-vintage port is a perfect partner for creamy stilton, while vintage port pairs beautifully with feisty cheeses such as gorgonzola.
But one of my particular favourite wine and cheese matches is to go for something really sweet. When serving a sumptuous cheese platter at a dinner party, try removing the reds and opt for a fruity, vibrant white to complement your range of cheese. Sweet, spicy and fruity German wines such as Gewürztraminers and Rieslings are good all-rounders.
When: From December 5 to January 2
Why: Early notice of this (and another) decadent bargain which you could buy in for Christmas. Pairs wonderfully with salty blue cheeses.
£21.99 (was £27.50)
Why: There'll be plenty of port drunk at Christmas and here's a good one: Intense rich fruity nose crammed with pure blackberry, cassis, cherry and plum aromas.
When: From December 5 to January 2
Why: A syrupy sweet wine with aromas of orange blossom and honeyed fruit. Enjoy with puddings or blue cheeses.
£7.19 (was £8.99)
When: Until January 1
Why: Plenty of fizz offers for Christmas and a glass of Prosecco is always welcome. Dry and lively, with a soft pleasant fruity character, this is ideal as an aperitif or with white meats.
£6.99 (was £9.99)