With another bank holiday upon us there is always a chance that you’ll be inspired to/cajoled to/obliged to entertain a crowd. Having already done the Big Feast for Easter it might be time for an ever-so simple, but crowd pleasing, cheeseboard. As one of the official ‘foods of the gods’ you will need no convincing of the magical properties of a cheese. However, a lesser-known fact is that you don’t need to crack open the port or heavy reds to lubricate your cheese selection, particularly if it’s a middle of the day job. Instead sparklers, whites and sherry can all play a part.
Champagne style fizz (which includes cava but not prosecco) is a true friend to the board. And it’s fun. Especially good with soft, ripe (aka slightly stinky) bries and camembert and hard cheeses like parmesan and aged-comte. The latter are at their best with slightly older more savoury bottles like vintage champagne. However if your budget does not stretch that far try a French champagne style crémant, which is named after the region it is made in. Crémant de Jura is having a small moment in the limelight at the moment and Aldi have a fantastic £7.29 version if you’re on a budget. Philippe Michel Crémant de Jura.
Aromatic whites are arguably a better match to a variety of cheeses than reds, the acidity acting as a palate cleanser to the fat of the cheese and a hint of sweetness offsetting the tang of blue cheeses. The aromatic line on the WineTubeMap shows the progression… Sauvignons are perfect pairings for goats cheese and fresh, soft cheeses whilst Gewurztraminer (look for a sweeter one, it acts like quince jelly) at the top of the line are great for blues, particularly soft, piquants like gorgonzola. French versions pip the Antipodeans when it comes to cheese matching. Try Loire sauvignon and Alsace Gewurztraminer.
If you want to stick to just one bottle to rule them all, I’d be inclined to opt for a good, dry fino or manzanilla sherry – another item on the ‘food of the gods’ list. It is currently en rama season, where unfiltered (=more flavour) sherries are released. Limited supplies means you have to snap them up fast and their shelf life is shorter so they need to be drunk rather than gather dust. Tio Pepe en Rama is a wine rack essential. Tio Pepe en rama (Wine Society, Tanners, Vino and others)
CHEESEBOARD of the week When looking for a picture to illustrate this post I found this, from my trip to the heavenly Bistro de Paradou (Diana Henry’s review here says it much better than I could). This wicker wheel of cheese was delivered to our table and left for a good 20 minutes for us to do our worst with before being whisked off to the next table. Probably the best cheese I’ve ever eaten What goes on your board? Send us your pics of a cheeseboard #winetubemap for our greedy observations.