Although it’s meant to be the most wonderful time of the year, last Christmas was pretty dull and dismal.
That’s why, this year, there’s sense that everyone feels like we need to play catch-up (well, maybe not everyone).
If you’re planning to host your own Christmas extravaganza this year – or just a wine and cheese night, maybe, because apparently there’s a difference – why not impress your guests with some festive food pairings?
More than being the perfect post-Christmas dinner treat, or a pretentious ploy by mid-range restaurants to make you drink more wine, cheese really can make your wine taste better.
A 2016 study showed that consuming cheese with wine impacted the description and preference of different wines, all positively.
In fact, none of the four cheeses included in the study had a negative impact on wine preference and liking of each wine either increased or remained the same after participants tasted it with cheese.
But choosing the right pairing is about much more than choosing your favourite of each – there’s a science to it.
‘Science says it is the astringency of the wine that balances the fattiness of the cheese,’ says wine consultant and columnist Libby Zietsman-Brodie.
‘When pairing cheese and wine, the golden rule is to think about weight and texture, whether is matching them or contrasting them,’ she adds.
If this all sounds a bit of a faff, you’re in luck.
Zietsman-Brodie has shared the best festive wine and cheese pairings for all of your Christmas party needs.
The best cheese and wine pairings for Christmas feasting
Blue cheese and port
‘For many, Christmas is the only time the blue cheese hits the table,’ Libby tells Metro.co.uk.
‘A festive stilton or similar blue cheese is beautifully matched with a sweet, unctuous dessert wine like a Sauternes or Port.
‘The heavy weight of both makes this an equal pairing but at the same time you have the sweet and salty juxtaposition of luscious, honeyed wine with the pungent savoury cheese.’
Baked camembert and crémant de Bourgogne
Libby says: ‘A festive starter for sharing this pairs perfectly with a Crémant de Bourgogne.
‘Cheeses with a bloom (the white rind) like brie or camembert are generally rich and creamy and chardonnay works well, but for the best possible match, the crisp bubbles help cut through the fatty creaminess of the cheese and the slightly toasty notes of traditional method sparkling compliments the fact it is baked.’
English cheddar and Bordeaux
‘Let us be patriotic and pop an English Cheddar onto any cheeseboard this year,’ Libby suggests/
‘White wine is a safer bet when it comes to most cheeses but the hard nuttiness of this cheese, particularly the strong flavours of an aged cheddar, can not only withstand the strength of a good Bordeaux blend (typically Cabernet Sa uvignon and Merlot) but this creates a sophisticated structured pairing.’
Goat’s cheese and sauvignon blanc
Keen on goat’s cheese? Go for a sauvignon blanc to take it to the next level.
‘A Sauvignon Blanc tends to be zippy and fresh and can handle the tart acidity of a goats cheese as well as balancing its creamy, earthiness,’ notes Libby.
‘Personally, I would take on board “what grows together, goes together”.
‘Goat’s cheese is common in France so I would choose a cool climate French Sancerre which tends to be grassier and greener, rather than a New World Sauvignon Blanc which can be more tropical passion fruit and gooseberries.’
Raclette and riesling
Libby recommends: ‘Transport yourself to the Christmas markets of Germany where smooth buttery raclette is often served melted on top of sliced potatoes or toasted bread.
‘The high acidity of a dry or off-dry German Riesling acts as the perfect foil to the rich texture, while also bringing complimentary flavours of stone fruit and blossom that will not overpower this mellow cheese.’
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