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Cheesemongers and delis alike pull out the stops with their cheese offering at this time of year. While you suggest cheeses for the perfect board, it is actually the blue at this time – when you have dug deep to buy a good bottle or two of wine, or an aged port, or even push the boundaries trying a Madeira or Marsala that you’d never thought about at any other time of year – which is the one style that works.
I would say to get a few interesting wines in stock and look at how they partner with the cheese course, but also as a stand-alone cheese like a blue which you can enjoy right at the end of the meal or an hour or so after a heavy meal such as Christmas lunch.
The Picos and Valdeon are big hitters as is Roquefort, and therefore be careful not only what you wish for but also what you drink as often a white wine will fare better with its cutting acidity, than a red with its tannins. Better still is a fortified wine like Port, Marsala or Madeira – the old-fashioned wines fare much better than you think with cheese and are well worth showcasing.
Downton Abbey lovers may pass the port, a Tawny of 30 years is something wonderful with cheese, but I go further back in time to Jane Austen, Dickens and Samuel Pepys and pass the Marsala or Madeira.
These are magical with blue cheese and while we may be humbly turning off the heating this winter to save a few pennies, we can at least warm our cockles with a deep glass of silken dessert wine while tucking into the blue.