Matching Cheddar and Wine

Wine with cheddar is difficult. With grocery store cheddar, please do not even try, and if you do, please do not tell me about your successes. With a serious (and by serious I mean expensive) cheddar, I’ve personally found a nice, strong Chinon Rouge (Loire Valley) does well. The juvenile (and by that I mean about 3-5 years) Chinon Rouge may possess an ever-so-slightly unripe cherry flavor, which seems to play well off a good cheddar of similar temperament. The wine should be in balance (so you enjoy it), but should have sufficient tannins to be able to “cut through” the ample fat of the cheese. This creates that balance we want (I want) in your mouth. When a cheese is dry, you need an acidic wine to stimulate your saliva glands to overcome the dryness. But here this is not the case. So never mind. “Mrs. Peel, you’re not needed.” As for other ideas, some say Syrah. I haven’t yet tried that, but I must say I’ve never voted against Syrah in anything, and I don’t imagine I ever will. I’ve heard Cabernet, but I don’t believe it.

Alternatively, you could use various chutneys to try to steer your cheddar in a certain direction. This might open the door to new wine pairings, which I still don’t want to hear about. An apple chutney could lead you to the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region in Germany. A pineapple chutney could lead you to a Marsanne, Roussanne blend from the Northern Rhone. A medium-strength cheddar mixed with the appropriately matched chutney could be tried with any number of medium-bodied Alsatian whites such as Pinot Gris or even Riesling (even a late harvest, which is sweeter), probably not so much Gewürztraminer, possibly Chardonnay, and probably Viognier. Now if you’re dealing with a very simple, cheddary cheddar (perhaps mass-produced, but well at that), such as _____ or ______ , you can have it with a sweet plum and raisin chutney and some sweet sherry or a tawny port. If your chutney is hot, then just have a damn beer. Come on.

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