Is there anything greater than cracking open a bottle of wine alongside an overloaded cheeseboard?
With so many delicious choices out there, matchmaking your cheese and wine can have its challenges. White or red? French or Italian? (and that's just the cheese!)
July 25th is National Wine & Cheese Day, so we thought it would be the perfect moment to share some of our very favourite pairings here at Reserve to get you started for your next cheese and wine night. All you need now is crackers, chutney and your very favourite people.
We've worked with a number of fantastic cheesemongers over the years and recently hosted tastings with the likes of Wintertarn Dairy and The Butchers Quarter. These indies have introduced us to some cracking artisan cheeses from all around the UK, putting us in rather good stead to create some mouth-watering pairings.
Here at Reserve, we've always felt like there ought to be two wine and cheese days - one for the summer months and one in the winter. Whilst we're in July and the weather is great, we're not quite in the mood for some of the classics (port and stilton can wait). Instead, we're doing something a little different, focussing more on the softer, lighter cheeses on offer during the summer.
So grab a box of your favourite crackers and get stuck in.
Pairing with sparkling wine
It's only right that we kick off with a glass of fizz, and classic Prosecco is a great place to begin.
Our favourite currently is Novapalma Prosecco DOC NV, an Organic Prosecco from Veneto. There's plenty of soft fruit and a hint of sweetness which makes it the perfect partner for a slightly earthier, soft cheese to compliment the ripe fruit and fizz. We'd suggest a camembert. A top tip - drizzling a little prosecco over the top before baking works a treat too.
Pairing with white wine
We can't help but feel that goat's cheese doesn't always get the love it deserves, especially as it's a real marriage made in heaven with a number of the most popular summer white wines.
Goat's cheese's slightly tart, slatey creaminess cries out for a wine with high acidity and clean minerality. Sauvignon Blanc is the obvious classic - both the wine and cheese have been produced together in the Loire Valley, France for centuries and the locals swear by the combination.
If you're looking for something a little different, however, that will really make your cheese sing, we'd suggest Bardos, Verdejo. It's got bright acidity, aromas of green citrus, freshly cut grass and a clean mineral finish. We have a local cheese favourite with this one too - White Nancy, named after a hill in Bollington, Cheshire. A soft, crumbly goat's cheese with fresh citrus notes, it has a slightly sweet finish that perfectly complements the Bardos Verdejo.
Pairing with lighter red wines
Beaujolais is a red wine made for summer time. It's often light and juicy, bursting with red and blackberries and crunchy acidity.
One of our current best sellers is the Caves de Julienas-Chaintre, Fleurie, a great red wine to chill down slightly before serving and a versatile option for cheese.
If you can get your hands on some French Cantal then that will hit the spot nicely. One of the oldest cheeses in France dating right back to 400 AD, it matures to have a delicious complexity, with nutty, tangy flavours that balance perfectly with the sweet fruits of Fleurie.
If you wanted to stick to British cheese, the Montgomery Extra Mature Cheddar from North Cadbury would be our recommendation. Famously described as 'life changing cheddar' by our friends at the Wintertarn Dairy, it's simply fantastic - rich and nutty with a peppery spice and a slightly drier texture. This is really top notch and a million miles away from supermarket cheddar.
Pairing with fuller red wines
If you like a slightly fuller red, then there are some fantastic cheeses out there to add to your summer cheeseboard that will partner perfectly with this type of wine.
We can't get enough of Sparkenhoe Red Leicester. It's one of the only Red Leicesters being made in the traditional way from the milk of the family's own cows at the Leicester Handmade Cheese Co, before being cloth bound and matured for 6 months. There's also a vintage version which has undergone 18 months of ageing - need we say more.
In terms of the best bottles to match, you still want to go for something that's full of ripe juicy fruit to balance the nutty, creamy flavours from the cheese. Cantine Sampietrana, Brindisi Riserva does exactly that. Made from Negroamaro grapes down in Puglia this is a ripe, rich and juicy Italian red that's an absolute crowd pleaser and one of our top selling red wines.
We're big believers in the philosophy here at Reserve that one of the best ways to enjoy wine (and cheese!) is to experiment. You might just find your new favourite and experience your own 'life-changing' cheese and wine moment. At our own tastings, we always encourage everyone to try each wine with every cheese and see how the flavours come together, and this is definitely a great approach for home as well.