Champagne and cheese – the new hot couple of the foodie world…
Champagne is now being heralded as the perfect accompaniment to British cheeses: words which are music to my ears. I’ve never been a fan of red wine (think instant headache) so was utterly delighted when the British Cheese Board and Champagne house Cattier announced the two to be ‘a match made in gastronomic heaven’ and something we should all be adding to the Christmas table this year. In a mastermind of tasting experiments, the two organisations have discovered a British decadence to rival the French.
‘The French used to characterise Britain as a country with one cheese and 365 religions – whereas France had one religion and 365 cheeses. There is now clearly enormous variety on the cheese map of Britain,’ said marketing manager at Cattier, Philippe Bienvenu.
We’ve certainly come a long way from a slab of Cheddar on a Jacob’s cracker: our British cheese industry is booming with award-winning cheeses and it seems British cheese connoisseurs are getting pickier about their pairings.
‘While many consider red wine to be the traditional partner for cheese, connoisseurs acknowledge the harmonious matching with white wine or Champagne and British cheese could become part of traditional Christmas dining,’ Bienvenu went on to predict.
Here is the full line-up of Champagne and Cheese pairings from Cattier and the British Cheese Board:
• Cattier Glamour Rose – Blue Stilton
• Cattier Brut Vintage 2007 – Sussex Charmer
• Cattier Clos du Moulin Premier Cru 2005/6/7 – Tasty Lancashire
• Cattier Brut Antique Premier Cru – Capricorn Goat’s Cheese
• Cattier Brut Antique Rose – Shropshire Red
• Cattier Brut Blanc de Noir – Davidstow 3 Year Vintage Cheddar
In the run up to Christmas, why not try out a few Champagne and cheese pairings at some fabulous establishments across the country? You’ll be the toast of the dinner table. Here are a few of our favourite places to try this new culinary combo.
Searcys Champagne Bar at St Pancras Grand is one of the finest purveyors of fabulous fizz, and this month is hosting a Champagne Fest14al. This establishment is renowned for having the longest Champagne bar in Europe, stretching an eye-watering 98m and able to showcase 1,372 Champagne flutes, side by side and gleaming. It’s the place to try out new Champagne styles and trends, so make use of the knowledgeable staff when choosing your tipple. Wonderfully, they offer a selection of fine British cheeses on the food menu. Try the Colston Basset Stilton with the Balfour Brut Rosé, an elegant fizz blended in Kent especially for Searcys: keeping it British, super chic and utterly delectable. Also on the menu is English Montgomery Cheddar, Somerset Brie, Ticklemore English goat’s cheese, Colston Basset Stilton to mix and match to your heart’s desire.
Lucknam Park is located on the outskirts of Bath in sweeping, magical grounds and simply oozes luxury. The cheeseboard here is really something to get excited about. Cheeses are plentiful, so much so that they are brought out on a trolley with an expert to talk you through the origins and flavours. There is a selection of French and British cheeses, with some sourced as close as few miles away – the delicious Wyfe of Bath, for example. Lucknam Park is a wonderful place to conduct your own Champagne and cheese tasting due to its fabulous location and Champagne of a calibre you would expect from a Michelin-starred kitchen. Personally, I’d incorporate a trip to the spa with my visit. It’s certainly worth keeping your ear to the ground for the occasional Champagne events.
Silks Bistro & Champagne Bar in Cornwall is renowned for award-winning cheese. Cornish Blue Cheese, Cornish Yarg and Cathedral City (a classic everyday favourite) are all produced in this southern gem of the British Isles. Silks Bistro & Champagne Bar boasts the only AA rosette in Newquay. Somewhere to cosy up in during the colder winter months and sip Champagne by candlelight, Silks Bistro is a rather more laid-back affair. With the sea just a moment away, and comfy leather sofas and armchairs beckoning, it’s a classic British location. I can think of worse ways to spend a weekend than taking a few girlfriends down to Cornwall and comparing Champagne and cheeses notes.
Case Restaurant was the first restaurant to open a Champagne bar in Leicester. A long list of vintage, house, non-vintage and rosé fizzes, ranging from reasonably priced to high-end corkers can be supped in the dedicated Champagne bar and snug. You could order a classic cheeseboard and chutneys to try with your chosen tipple, but, in this case, I think I would opt to hire out the Champagne bar for a special evening of tasting. They are an accommodating team, and the snug, a private area accessed through the Champagne bar, is an ideal venue. They’ve also got the option to create your own wine tasting competition here: great if you fancy trying out that white wine and cheese pairing.