Sauternes and blue cheese

This one is sheer heaven. First choose a creamy blue cheese. When demonstrating this I usually go for Saint Agur because it’s not too strong so even those who don’t usually like blue cheese can stomach it for the sake of the experiment. But any French blue cheese is likely to do nicely.

Blue cheese for Sauternes wine

image © cookbookman

Grab yourself a half bottle of Sauternes dessert wine. The things about Sauternes is that although it is sweet, it is made from a mix of Semillon (and often some Sauvignon Blanc) by encouraging a rot in the vineyard called botrytis, which introduces a tangy marmalade bite to the flavour and balances the intensely sweet sugars. (My wife doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth and usually hates sickly sweet wine, but she loves botrytised sweet wine thanks to that balancing marmalade bite).

Sauternes isn’t cheap, but don’t go for the most inexpensive bottle you can find – it may be a bit unbalanced and can easily taste harsh. Tesco does a reasonably cheap version at £12.99 (Tesco Finest Sauternes 2007), but they make botrytised Semillon in the new world too and Marks and Spencer do a Hermits Hill Botrytis Semillon 2005 for just £6.99 (I haven’t tried it, but Susy Atkins says it’s nice). There are also some Riesling dessert wines with a botrytis character that can be equally cheap.

But it’s what happens in the mouth when you swill the dessert wine around with a bit of blue cheese that you’ll love. Try to keep some cheese in your mouth for maximum effect – the wine enhances the creaminess of the cheese and the two mingle together into a glorious toffee and caramel sensation. The botrytis bite balances the tang of strength in the cheese and neither one overpowers the other. Ah, it’s to die for…

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