Out of all of the good things in life, cheese ranks pretty highly in my book. Creamy goat’s cheese, rich melted Camembert, ‘blow your socks off’ Stilton…I just love a good hunk of cheese.
I’m therefore all over any invitation to get my mitts on some new varieties and put them to the test. And if a sommelier or two fancies giving wine recommendations for each different cheese, I’m more than happy with that! So off we pottered to The Albert Square Chop House to see what treats lay in store for a Cheese & Wine Tasting Evening, hosted by cheese expert Chris and sommeliers George and Marcin.When we arrived, we were pretty excited to see the large quantities of cheeses laid out for us. I tried my hardest to control myself and not go completely nuts straight away.This is my ‘I just want to stuff myself full of cheese’ face. I was keen.Chris, our cheese expert for the evening, taught us all about the background of each of the cheeses, whilst George and Marcin recommended the perfect wine pairings for us to match the different flavours of the cheeses. I know very little about wine, so it was a great chance to expand my knowledge!
Let me take you on our taste sensation of an evening…
The first cheese that we got involved with was the big old beast of Old Amsterdam, a smooth flavoursome Gouda, paired with a gorgeous English white wine – The Three Vineyards. Whilst Dutch cheese can be known for being a bit bland, this was rich and full of body…a pleasant surprise. In my eyes, if you’re going to have cheese, you may as well have something with a bit of flavour, so this did not disappoint!After this first cheesy offering, we were primed and eager for more. Next up it was time for an English cheese and we were served the gorgeous Red Fox. It may look like a Red Leicester, but it has so much more depth of flavour that really develops as you eat it. This is a cheese that I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for in the future!The slight acidity of the wine really brought out the creamy flavours of the cheese. Marcin and George had done a spectacular job of picking out great cheese and wine pairings. Then it was time for a smoky cheddar. I love a good mature cheddar – we’ve had a significant stash of Cathedral City’s Extra Mature and Vintage in the fridge that we’ve been rapidly working our way through and we always have a nosy around the cheese stalls for a good cheddar when we visit a food market. Therefore I was very keen to check out this one from Quickes’ Home Farm in Devon.Very very intense in flavour, this mature cheddar just crumbled away in your mouth. I think that this was my favourite cheese of the night. Divine. With this cheese and wine pairing, it was certainly the strong cheddar that did all the talking next to the more gentle South African shiraz. Now a cheeseboard just wouldn’t be complete without a seriously smelly offering. Bring on the brie and the daft French accents.It was certainly a stinker, but was deliciously creamy nonetheless. One wine clearly wasn’t enough, so we tried it with both a French wine and a really fruity New Zealand one.As always, I preferred the sweeter one!
Finally, we tucked into a very powerful Stilton.A very tasty wine was required in order to match the punch of the Stilton, and again we were given two options, rich port, or sweet Royal Tokaji. Whilst the port took me on a little nostalgic trip back down memory lane to formal dinners at university, my hankering for sweet things tipped the balance in favour of the gorgeously sweet Royal Tokaji. I’d never tried it before, but I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for this little gem in the future!
It really was a foodie sensation of an evening. I feel like I now have a whole new appreciation for good wines and how they pair with other food. Darren and I are definitely keen to go back to The Albert Square Chop House to ask George and Marcin for their advice with future meals. They are wine geniuses.
Do you have any favourite cheese and wine pairings? Or any particularly great cheese recommendations? I’m always on the look out for more tasty cheeses to enjoy!