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Cheese and drinks pairings - venturing beyond the classics

We went beyond the traditional cheese and wine pairings in our Instagram and Facebook Live with Poppy Bethell-Vickers last weekend to explore some wild and wacky drinks pairings with our clothbound cheddar cheese. From beer, cider and Campari to herbal tea, coffee and juice, you can pair all sorts with cheese.

Here we discuss the rules of pairing, top tips for tasting and Poppy's winning combinations.    

Pairing Rules

The top rule for pairing food is that if it tastes good - keep going. If it tastes bad - stop. Other than that - there are no rules! Try whatever you like and get creative with it. After all, we don't know these things work until somebody tries it. 

With pairings, you're usually looking to either compliment or to contrast flavours. For example, peanut butter and chocolate is a compliment pairing, whereas, peanut butter and jam is a contrasting pairing. The salty, earthy peanut butter clashing with the sweet, acidic and sticky jam is a match made in heaven, loved by so many.

The classic wine and cheese pairing works so well because of the tannins in the wine. Tannins make you salivate at the back of your mouth, binding the fat in the cheese, removing the richness from your palate when you swallow and then resetting your mouth to take the next bite of cheese. Tannins also exist in tea and coffee, so we tested out if these work with our cheese.

Beer and cheese is another classic combination, especially IPAs. Cheddars tend to mellow out the bitterness found in the IPA style beers, and the pairing tends to tease out the tropical flavours from the hops. Cheddar and bitterness is a nice little contrasting pairing.

In this blog we'll be exploring tannins and bitterness.

Top Tasting Tips

  1. Start with the less intense cheese and drinks first, moving towards the stronger flavours at the end
  2. Make sure your cheese is up to room temperature
  3. Cut the cheese nose to rind to explore the full flavour profile
  4. Have sliced apple at the ready to cleanse the palate between each cheese/pairing

The producers we're pairing with:

The old tale goes that 'what grows together goes together', so we've chosen producers who are very local to our farm. It's also really important to support small scale, artisanal producers who have had their livelihoods put on the line due to their routes to market ceasing overnight due to Covid-19. Small producers are struggling at this time, so try to buy their products when considering what to pair with cheese.

Sharpham Wine - cheese and wine producers on a 1000 year old farm near Totnes in Devon. Famous for Sharpham Brie and Ticklemore cheese. We'll be pairing their English Sparkling Brut.

Sandford Orchards - With cider making legend Barney Butterflied at the helm, Sandford Orchards are based just a few miles down the road from the farm in Crediton. They age their ciders from six months to three years, and all apples are sourced from a 30-mile radius of the press.

Hanlons Brewery - Sam & Dan are the fabulous couple running this craft brewery just a mile down the road from Home Farm. We'll be trying the Firefly Bitter, one of the first beers from Hanlons. 

 "What grows together goes together." 

The cheeses we're pairing with:

Devonshire Red Clothbound Cheese - Aged for 6 months - buttery, nutty, with a luxuriously creamy mouthfeel.

Goat's Milk Clothbound Cheddar - Aged for 6-9 months - lactic, creamy, not goaty, citrussy heaven.

Mature Clothbound Cheddar - Aged for 12 months - our flagship cheese. Horseradish, grassy, meaty, brothy.

Vintage Clothbound Cheddar - Aged for 24 months - punchy and strong - horseradish. 

Oak Smoked Clothbound Cheddar - Our Mature cheddar, cold smoked on the farm using wood chips from the Quicke's estate.

Devonshire Red Clothbound Cheese

Sharpham Sparkling Brut - Bubbly drinks work really well, helping to refresh your palate as you drink. The acidity cuts through the fat.

Hanlons Firefly Bitter - Works really well. Would recommend!

Goat's Milk Clothbound Cheddar

Sharpham Sparkling Brut - This works so beautifully and feels really luxurious. English sparkling wine and English Goat's milk cheese. A wonderful pairing.

Matcha Green Tea - The herbaceous note in the tea works well with the Goats.

Earl Grey Tea - Lemon notes complement nicely with the citrusy notes in the Goats.

Campari Spritz - A real bitterness comes through from the Campari, so the creaminess of the cheese really works. Would also work with Aperol. Really light, not too heavy.

Mature & Vintage Clothbound Cheddar

Sandford Orchards Devon Red Cider - Our favourite pairing for Quicke's Mature. It cuts through, it's appley but it's not too sweet.

Hanlons Firefly Bitter - Works nicely with both cheeses.

Sandford Orchards Fresh-Pressed Apple Juice - This fresh-pressed apple juice is absolutely stunning and works really well with these cheeses.

Oak Smoked Clothbound Cheddar

Tomato Juice - This smoky punchy cheese with the fresh tomatoey zing delivers a really amazing contrasting combination.

Sandford Orchards So Juicy Spicy Ginger Beer - The fiery heat from the ginger and bubbles works well to lift the palate and helps to cleanse. A great contrasting combination.

You can watch Poppy's full drinks pairing here.

Why not get together on Zoom or with your household and hold your very own happy hour drinks pairing? Buy the cheeses using the links above and below and be sure to let us know your favourite drink and cheese pairings, however wacky they may be!

The Sharpham Sparkling Brut, Sandford Orchards Devon Red Cider and Hanlons Brewery Beer are all available to order from us via our Cheese Boxes.


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