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National Wine & Cheese Day

National Wine & Cheese Day

Cheese plates are often an excuse to break out intense red wines and hearty meats, but the hot weather calls for a lighter take and some careful pairings. This week sees the celebration of National Wine & Cheese Day (25th July) – so a great time for us to look at which wine goes best with which cheese.
Both cheese and wine have vast ranges of styles, where national and regional traditions interweave with climate, soil and other changing natural influences, meaning one year's batch can be very different from the last. Both wine and cheese embody a place, a people and a sense of terroir and spending time choosing the right pairing can make all the difference.
 
Hard cow's cheese like cheddar
Try any syrah-based southern Rhône, such as Château Courac, or perhaps a silkier Barossa shiraz or maybe a big Barolo. A crumbly, lactic, sharper Lancashire cheese, such as Mrs Appleby's, needs a fruitier, well-structured Beaujolais.
 
Hard sheep's cheese
Dry, salty cheeses are best with the big red wines or full-bodied oaky whites, such as an Australian chardonnay. A Valpolicella gores very well with younger, milder Italian Pecorino.  
 
Semi-hard cheese
Gruyère, and other French semi-hard cheeses like Comté, or English ones like Cornish Yarg can be wonderful with Pinot Noir, or white wines, particularly those with good acidity, such as a Riesling, which cuts through the cheese's fatty nature.
 
Blue cheese
Stilton, Roquefort and Gorgonzola are strong, creamy, salty and pungent, they demand big, structured wines to match their deep, complex tastes. A Claret goes really well with them. However you van also try vintage Port. Dark, red wines from the south of France, such as Corbières, Madiran or Cahors, also make a fine match for the local Roquefort.
 
Soft cheese
Runny French cheeses are difficult to match with wine. The distinctive ammonic, farmyard smell of a good Brie or Camembert doesn't really complement many wines, but try a light, fruity red, such as Saumur Champigny, from the Loire, which will not fight the cheese.
 
Mature goat's cheese
This is where crisp, dry whites can slice, razor-like, through the texture of goat's cheese like Ragstone, which can defeat red wine. Try Coteaux du Languedoc Blanc, Château de Valflaunès or try some of the New World chardonnay, such as Heggies Chardonnay.
 
The Wine Society does some great more detailed notes on pairing which is worth a look.
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