Wine and cheese – goes together like a horse and marriage?

Why is everybody obsessed with ‘red wine and cheese’?

It is one of the most irritating memes. In the vast majority of cases, it is actually WHITE wine (or sweet or fortified wine) that goes better with cheese than any red wine.

And if a red DOES go with cheese, it is much more likely to be a youthful, soft, fruity red than a mature, tannic Bordeaux.

But such is the demand for ‘wine and cheese’ matching sessions!

In planning the 40th ‘Sunday Times Vintage Festival’, we decided to get together with leading cheesemonger Paxton and Whitfield to create the ‘Cheese and Wine Academy’.

Today, we had our first full tasting session. Dan Bliss, and Alan Watson, two of Paxton and Whitfield’s leading cheese experts, Grant Hedley from Laithwaite’s shop at The Arch and I opened 12 bottles of wine, and tasted 20+ cheeses, with a view to creating four different sessions.

We are hoping to bust some myths, raise some eyebrows, flex some tastebuds and create some cheese and wine magic.

Spending some time with Dan and Alan, what struck me more than anything else was how similar the jobs of a cheesemonger and a wine merchant are.

Cheesemongers can tell you as much about rennet made from thistles, and how Napoleon ‘redesigned’ the shape of a Valencay, as a wine merchant can wax lyrical about malolactic fermentation, or explain how Dom Perignon ‘tasted the stars’

We both travel obsessively to the places where our producers work. We both seek out small quirky producers doing interesting things, and get excited by the geeky details.

But we both also respect the classic styles that keep most of our customers happy. For the cheesemonger’s cheddar, brie and stilton, we wine merchants have our Chardonnay, Merlot and Bordeaux.

Wine merchants have their cellars, corkscrews and spittoons.

Cheesemongers have very cold shops, and those proper cheese knives with holes in.

And we both get to drink wine and eat cheese on a sunny Friday morning in St James’ and call it ‘work’.

Come and taste our brilliant matches at The Sunday Times Vintage Festival on the 10th and 11th May 2019. The Saturday sessions are sold out, but there is still space on the Friday. We’d love to see you!

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