The perfect balance that lets flavours shine through
English Sparkling Wine and cheese make a perfect couple. That’s because sparkling wines have effervescence and crisp acidity and this works wonders with the fat and salt in cheese. There is a long history of cheese and wine pairing. Both have been part of our history for thousands of years. And whilst many wouldn’t dream of serving cheese at the start of a meal, English Sparkling wine and cheese is a winning combination. It’s a taste senstation that won’t ruin your appetite.
A Short History of Cheese and Wine Pairing
The oldest trace of cheese ever found dates back 3,200 years in the tomb of Ptahmes in Egypt, during the same period that Egyptians were making their own wine. It’s not inconceivable that the history of cheese and wine pairing goes back to the ancient Egyptians. However, the real tradition of cheese and wine pairing as we know it comes from France and to some extent Italy. Records dating back hundreds of years show that wine and cheese produced in the same regions have been enjoyed together for centuries. The French Brie region, for instance, has long been noted for its Brie cheese production, as well as many tannic wine varietals, such as Beaujolais.
The Science Behind Why Cheese and Wine Make Such a Good Match
There is a scientific reason behind why cheese and wine are such a winning culinary combination. Wine has two essential qualities. Tannin, a substance found in the grape stem, seeds and skins which can make your mouth feel dry. And acidity or the fresh and tart attributes of the wine which can make you salivate. Cheese is creamy and fatty by nature. It also contains certain proteins that coat and lubricate the palate of your mouth when ingested.
Wines that contain a large amount of tannin can be harsh to our taste buds. It can also overpower the subtle flavours found in the wine. However, when the cheese is consumed with tannic wine, the fats and proteins found in cheese can break down the tannin. It’s why we put milk in our cup of tea. A lot of white wines have good acidity. This astringent property helps cut through the creaminess of the cheese. Sparkling wines have effervescence and crisp acidity and pair brilliantly with salty cheese.
English Sparkling Wine and Cheese Pairing
With the rise and rise of English Sparkling Wine and the resurgence of English cheeses we’ve taken a leaf from the history books to look at some of the best regional English Sparkling wine and English cheese pairings.
Sussex and Kent dominate the medal league tables for English Sparkling wine, so no list would be complete without them, but there are plenty of other counties also producing stunning wines. We’ve only dipped a toe in the water here and this is just the beginning of a tasting journey that celebrates the local, sustainable and delicious produce being made in the UK.
Sussex Soft cheeses like Sussex Brie make a fine combination with any English Sparkling wine and are especially delicious with a drizzle of a winery produced honey. Many are creamy with mushroomy undertones, which is a wonderful counterbalance to the zing of an English classic cuvee. If you want an award-winning pairing with strong regional ties, try Alsop & Walker Great Taste Award (Gold two stars) Sussex Camembert with Wine GB 22 Gold medal Busi Jacobsohn Wine Estate 2018 Sparkling – Classic Method Classic Cuvée.
West Sussex is a prolific wine and cheese producing county. As such, there are many combinations of English Sparkling wine and regional English cheese that would be brilliant for a full on British delicious experience. For something a little unexpected try Ashling Park Rosé. This is a Wine GB 22 trophy winner for best English Sparkling rosé. Its rich and savoury characteristics from the Sussex pinot noir fruit make it an excellent companion for a delicate goat’s cheese. For instance, Sister Sarah from the High Weald Dairy is light and in their own words, not too “goaty”. Serve with a handful of English strawberries and a bottle of cold Ashling Park Rose.
Kent always performs well at the Wine GB Awards and Gusbourne was the standout winning English Sparkling Wine producer from the county in 2022. For a treat try the Gold medal 2018 Sparkling – Classic Method Blanc de Noirs White. It is made from 100% Kent Pinot Noir for a delicate English Sparkling wine with cherry notes and a long finish. Blanc de Noirs is an excellent pairing with any blue, herby English cheese. For regional pairings try Kentish Blue from the Kingcott Dairy produced in the heart of the Kent countryside. It’s a full flavoured cheese with long lasting depth and spicy overtones on the finish that pairs wonderfully with Gusbourne 2018 Classic Method Blanc de Noirs.
Take inspiration from the Hampshire Fizz Fest and cut your favourite cheese into fingers to enjoy with a glass of English sparkling wine. Old Winchester made by Lyburn Farm, on the northern edge of England’s New Forest is aged for 18-24 months. It has a distinctive nuttiness and dry, crystalline texture. Like an old gouda, its vegetarian rennet means many now consider it a great English alternative to parmesan. If you want to keep it all in the county try one of the Wine GB 22 Trophy Medal Hampshire English sparkling wines. Exton Cuvee M Isaac Blanc de Blanc 2011. is a wonderful option. Their sparkle stands up beautifully to the fat of the cheese, and the underpinning acidity pairs wonderfully with this flavoursome Old Winchester.
Dorset in South West England is not as well recognised as Kent, Sussex and Hampshire for producing English Sparkling Wine. However, there are an increasing number of top producers emerging from this county. And the region is of course famous for its dairy production so there are plenty of amazing cheeses to choose from for some stunning cheese and wine pairings. Try Smoked Wordsworth, a Gouda style cheese, smoked over Dorset Oak produced by the book and bucket cheese company with the Wine GB 22 Gold Medal Langham Estate Blanc de Blancs 2018. With notes of granny smith apple, white grapefruit and a great salinity this is an excellent pairing with a sliver of Smoked Wordsworth melted on a superfine slice of toasted sourdough.