A cheese platter is crucial at Christmas and the best way to end a day of excessive eating – but not without plonk. Terry Kirby picks wines to pair with fromage
Palataia Pinot Noir 2015 with Le Chatelain Camembert
Creamy, pungent cheeses turn strong tannic reds and port acrid while most whites can be overwhelmed, so a lighter red is best. German Pinot Noir, such as this extremely well made example, is under appreciated in the UK, offering far better value than its Burgundian or Kiwi counterparts. Fresh, raspberry fruit flavours and some touches of oak and earth for balance – and to match what cheesemakers call the “farmyard” qualities of the Camembert.
Le Percheron Chenin Blanc Viogner 2016 with “Carnival” mango-and-ginger stilton
Cheeses with added flavourings are difficult to pair with wines. Needed here is something complementing the spiced, fruity mango and ginger flavours and the creamy white cheese. The clean, unoaked Chenin Blanc, with just underlying hints of apricots and the more spicy, aromatic Viognier will do the job superbly at great value. To buy it, though, you’ll need a one-off lifetime membership of The Wine Society – a cool Christmas present, at £40.
“Hommage” Château de Durette Morgon 2015 with “Miss Muffet” Whalesborough cheese
Do not be tempted to go for a big heavy red or port with this semi-hard cheese. The sweetish, nutty flavours need a juicy, medium-weight red, with enough, just enough, structure and the elusive “suppleness” that characterises Beaujolais Villages wines like this Morgon. Wonderfully balanced, with a lovely blend of black-and-red fruit flavours, this wine has the right touch of sweetness to pick up the same notes in the cheese.
Warre’s Quinta Da Cavadinha Vintage Port 2001 with Snowdonia “Ruby Mist”
A strong, hard Cheddar-style cheese needs a full-bodied claret or, for far better value, a rich, smooth vintage port like this single Quinta [or vineyard] from Warre’s –owned by the legendary Symington family, in the port trade since the mid 17th century. Complex flavours of red berries and dried fruits, some touches of tar and spice, make for a really satisfying, luxuriant mouthful to wash down the Ruby Mist.
Noval 10 Year Old Tawny Port and Colston Bassett stilton
The mellow, layered flavours of nuts, dried fruits like figs and dates make a tawny port ideal with a strong blue cheeses, where the “blue” can sometimes overwhelm heavier reds and ports. This relatively young tawny from Noval, another ancient port house, which also sells 20- and 40-year old versions, is still complex enough to handle the equally distinctive Colston Bassett, particularly when paired with a plate of walnuts.