As with wine, the world of cheese is bursting with esoteric characters, each with their own unique flair. From complex and creamy blue and luxurious triple cream, to tangy goat’s cheese and sharp cheddar, navigating the world of cheese can be overwhelming – not least when you bring wine into the picture.
We’re strong advocates that all Christmas celebrations should feature a cheese of some description. Once you’ve selected which cheeses will make the cut, it’s time think about the best wines to match that will bring out the very best in the dairy delights. It’s no mean feat finding the perfect partners, which is why we’ve enlisted the help from the experts at Pong Cheese, who’ve found six cheese and wine matches for the jolly season.
Peller Vidal Icewine and Blue Monday
Blue Monday is a rich, pasteurised, sophisticated blue cow’s milk cheese created by Alex James – former band member of Blur, turned cheesemaker – and Judy Bell from Shepherds Purse Cheeses. Matured for up to eight weeks, it develops a wonderful soft, mellow, creamy texture – faintly sweet, intensely savoury, spicy and rich, with a thin natural rind. Alex Jamnes named this cheese after his favourite New Order song, but there is absolutely nothing that will make you unhappy about this masterpiece. Blue Monday is complex and creamy with bold cracks and streaks of blue-spicy, steely and sweet.
The match: Together, Peller Vidal Icewine and Blue Monday create an amazing taste sensation. Neither overpowers the other and the rich honey notes from the wine marries well with the cheese. The wine allows the cheese to mellow and the creaminess comes through delicately.
Quinta do Crasto LBV Port and Crozier Blue
Crozier Blue is the sister cheese of Cashel Blue and is made in the same production facility at the Grubb family farm in County Tipperary, Ireland. This blue ewe’s milk cheese is much paler than the cow’s milk Cashel Blue, and also has a longer maturing period. The Crozier blue is characterised by its creaminess, which can be traced directly to the limestone-rich pastures where the ewes graze, and which in turn contribute to a particularly lush, full and sweet milk. A crozier refers to the hooked staff carried by either a bishop or a shepherd. Crozier Blue has a rich, full and well-rounded flavour.
The match: With gentle salty notes and a distinctly rich creamy texture, offset by a touch of spice, this cheese is the ideal partner for Quinta do Crasto’s lusicous LBV Port. The sweetness of the port offsets the saltiness of the cheese making this paring a truly great match.
Finn is an unpasteurised, soft, white cheese produced by Charlie Westhead of Neal's Yard Creamery and is the only triple cream cheese made in England. Firm with a rich, creamy texture, this mild cheese is fresh and lactic when young, taking on a mushroomy, salty and nutty taste as it matures. Local unpasteurised cows milk is combined with double cream before a long gentle set, making a rich delectable cheese. Double/triple cream cheeses like Finn are difficult to make because the cream settles out whilst the curd is setting. Hence Charlie has to ‘top-stir’ the setting curd several times to ensure the cream is all trapped in the cheese.
The match: The paring works well as the saltiness of the cheese comes through and enhances the wine’s floral, juicy notes. The wine has rich mineral complexity and the cheese combines well to create a sensational matching.
Trimbach Pinot Gris Réserve Personelle and Driftwood Goat
Made near the Glastonbury festival site, Driftwood Goat is made in a log shape and is a semi-soft unpasteurised, vegetarian goat’s milk cheese. This British goat’s cheese contains a fresh, clean, slightly lactic aroma with a citrusy tang. You can taste slight notes of salt but the cheese is not bitter. Made by Peter Humphries at Whitelake Cheeses, Driftwood Goat takes its name from the geotrichum ash rind, which gives an earthy finish on the palate. The cheese has a lovely smooth texture with a grey blue ash rind giving the resemblance of a piece of driftwood.
The match: A match made in heaven! With distinct minerality, the wine offsets the fresh, clean, citrus Driftwood Goat cheese, resulting in a delicate yet intense matching.
Bertani Amarone Classico DOC and Gorgonzola Dolce DOP
The Gorgonzola Dolce is one of the creamiest and most spreadable cheeses in our range. The cheese is much softer and milder than its picante stronger counterpart, which is not surprising, given its name derives from the Italian word for sweet.
The match: The sweetness of both the wine and the cheese makes for a truly sublime paring. With rich, dry, complexity on the palate the wine has an amazing depth of flavour that combines so well with the divinely soft and sweet Gorgonzola Dolce.
Ramón Bilbao Rioja Edicion Limitada and Godminster Organic Cheddar
Godminster Vintage Organic Cheddar has a distinctive purple wax, which encases the beautiful, moist and creamy cheddar. The Godminster is made in Bruton, Somerset, using organic soil association certified cow’s milk.
The match: This is a clash of the titans! Rich, powerful cheddar, versus rich, powerful Rioja! A heavy weight contest like no other, which results in complete harmony. The cheese brings out the smokiness of the full-bodied wine, and the wine brings out the salty crystals, and rich creamy flavour of the cheese.
Pong was created by two friends from Bath, the capital of the ‘Napa Valley’ of cheese: Somerset. One of the founders has been in Internet marketing for the last 12 years running several digital marketing agencies in London, helping brands such as Waitrose, Jamie Oliver and Oli launch into the online space; the other founder was a chef and cheese expert for over 10 years including serving the great and good in the Houses of Parliament.
Pong was created to bring customers some of the very best cheeses produced by the leading independent and artisan producers in the UK, complemented with some classics from Europe. Each cheese is a little masterpiece of taste and texture and in most cases has a unique and highly skilled process behind its production.