Psst… don't tell anyone but CHRISTMAS STARTS TOMORROW. Oh, okay, so it's only December 1st, but that does mean we're officially allowed to mention the big day without getting scroogey looks from people.
This week, I'm going to drool incessantly at the thought of my Christmas cheeseboard. Yeah, it's maybe not quite as important as the turkey or the mince pies, but as a cheese fangirl it's definitely a treat for me, both on the big day and at the parties leading up to it.
"But cheese and wine matching is easy!" I hear you cry (…silently.) Traditionally-speaking, you're right, and we all think red, red, red. I think most people are food-savvy enough to know you put Bordeaux reds with hard cheddary stuff, mature Burgundy matches mature softies like brie and camembert, and Port is stilton's absolute bezza.
But a post telling you what you already know is no fun at all, plus traditional doesn't mean 'right', and I like to shake things up a bit. So this year I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, wine and cheese-wise. And you'd be surprised how tasty these matches are.
Oh, yum-central. Cheddar, parmesan, Lincolnshire poacher… salty, flavourful, dry and sometimes a tad nutty. Before I fall into a cheese-induced coma, I should tell you that reds sometimes overpower these wonderful flavours. Throw a Christmas curveball and serve the hard cheeses with a medium-dry Vouvray, like Vouvray, Les Coteaux Tufiers, Demi-Sec 2009 at a surprising £6.95 from The Wine Society. The slight rich sweetness offsets the cheese's salty dryness, and its honeyed delicacy smooths out the nutty flavours. Heaven.
The gooey, melt-in-your-mouthy ones. Camembert, Brie, and even stinky goats cheese. A red-free zone in my household - I much prefer a nice crisp sauvignon. The tangy cheese is well-paired with an aromatic white, so a zingy gewurztraminer might even do the job too. My choice would be a Loire Sauvignon like Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Touraine Sauvignon for a very reasonable £7.99.
Roquefort, Saint-Agur, Stilton. When you get a really good one, it's so salty and harsh I can't quite believe people enjoy eating this stuff. But OH WE DO. Those canny French people have matched Roquefort with sweet white Sauternes for donkeys years, and I can't get believe we haven't cottoned on yet. Massive saltiness, meet massive sweetness... Wow, you guys should totally get married.
A half-bottle will do the job, and Waitrose's own-brand Sauternes is made by the massive name Chateau Suduiraut, and yet is only £14.99. It'll probably last the Christmas season in the fridge too if you don't scoff it all on the big day.
There we go, some ideas for a cheeseboard with a twist that'll make the end of the Christmas meal worth staying awake for. Three wines, and feel free to mix and match - I reckon the sauvignon would be great with some of the hard cheeses too, and Vouvray and the softies will probably be delish.
Maybe mix it up a bit with the traditional red suggestions if you don't want to be too avant-garde, but hey, this could be the start of a whole new set of cheese and wine-matching traditions…
Image taken from thezartorialist.com's photostream under the Creative Commons License.