There’s no better time to pop corks than at Christmas, and the good news for cheese lovers is that sparkling wine is a surprisingly good match for a huge range of cheeses. Here are our top five festive fizz and fromage matches.
St Ella & Vouvray
The bubbles and acidity in sparkling wines are a fantastic foil for all sorts of cheeses. They cut through the creaminess, which naturally leads you to reach for another piece of cheese. This is particularly true with soft goat’s cheeses. In the Loire Valley, sparkling Vouvray, made with Chenin Blanc grapes, is a classic match for the region’s goat’s cheese. The wine’s apple and honey notes work just as well with St Ella – a wrinkly rinded crottin made in Wiltshire by Rosary Goats Cheese – picking up on the cheese’s lemony core and accentuating spicy, savoury notes near the rind.
Cracker match: Peter’s Yard Rosemary & Sea Salt Sourdough Crackers
Stithians & English Sparkling Rose
You probably know nettle-wrapped Cornish Yarg, but have you ever seen one naked? If the answer is yes, then you will have tried Stithians. Made by Lynher Dairies in tiny batches, the cheese is essentially Yarg without the nettles. It has a thin natural rind instead and ends up being similar to Cheshire or Wensleydale. Crumbly, savoury and buttery, it’s a mild and more-ish cheese that works nicely with sparkling rosés. The red berry notes of Fitzrovia from Sussex-based Ridgeview is just the ticket. Juicy fruit and honey notes meld with the rich cheese like strawberries and cream.
Cracker match: Peter’s Yard Pink Peppercorn Sourdough Crackers
Parmigiano Reggiano & Lambrusco Reggiano
A 24-month Parmesan is intense, full of salty, savoury and dried fruit notes. The last thing you’d think of drinking with it is a young frothy sparkling red, but Lambrusco is a surprisingly successful match. Hailing from the same area as Parmesan, the wine is made with a blend of local grape varieties using the tank method in a similar way to Prosecco. It’s light-bodied (11% ABV) with lots of fruit and floral flavours, plus a mouth-filling fizz. This helps accentuate the residual fruit notes of aged Parmesan and brings youth and vitality to the crystalline cheese. Proof that there’s truth in the old adage: ‘what grows together, goes together’.
Cracker match: Peter’s Yard Rye & Charcoal Sourdough Crackers
Comté & Champagne
Comté is a favourite on French cheeseboards at Christmas, when Champagne corks are flying, so it’s no surprise to find the two pair beautifully. At two years old Comté is rich and rounded taking in roasted hazelnut, brown butter and caramelised onion flavours. It’s a cheese that requires a Champagne that has had plenty of time in the cellar. Try Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois, which is fermented in 15-year-old oak barrels and aged on its lees for six years. An opulent wine flush with toasty, dried fruit and toffee notes.
Cracker match: Peter’s Yard Poppy Seed Sourdough Crackers
Cava and La Peral
Port is the traditional tipple of choice for blue cheese at Christmas, but there’ssomething rather jubilant about cracking open a bottle of something sparkling at the end of a meal.
Cava has been overshadowed by Prosecco in recent years, which is a shame, because there is terrific value to be found in Spain. It’s made using the same process as Champagne, but with Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes, and comes in various age profiles. Gran Reserva, which is bottle aged for at least 30 months, develops brioche, hazelnut and baked apple notes, and is a perfect palate-cleansing pairing for creamy blues, such as La Peral. The mild and buttery cow’s milk blue from Asturias has a yeasty quality that dovetails with the toasty Cava.
Cracker match: Peter’s Yard Fig & Spelt Sourdough Crackers
Sourdough crackers and crispbreads
Our hand-baked sourdough crackers and crispbreads are the perfect accompaniment to the ultimate British cheeseboard.