Kate’s ties with France have been long-standing; first skiing there at only nine months old, a French degree with a year abroad, a holiday home, lots of summer holidays, research trips and even the odd trip with her fiancé. Kate also loves wine and loves cheese, so really, it was a bit of a no brainer.
Starting with an almost Hen essential glass of Champagne and some smoked salmon Blinis (and whilst I had their undivided attention) I took a second to explain what it was all about: Why the age old pairing of French wine and cheese works so well and how to go about it. I spelled out the importance of provenance, the similarity between the A.O.C. regulations, the variety in both cheese and wine styles and most importantly my 8 tips for pairing:
1. Things that grow together, go together.
2. Most importantly, match flavour intensity and weight, like for like.
3. Whites are actually much easier to pair with cheese than reds.
4. More than anything else you need high acidity to cut through cheese.
5. Tannins match with hard cheese. Low tannins are much safer.
6. Fruity and fresh wines match well with creamy and fresh cheeses.
7. Aged reds with soft fruit and tannins pair beautifully with cheese.
8. Match characteristics and flavours; creamy, mineral, nutty, fruity etc.
…and what better was to demonstrate, than by putting it into action.
|Sancerre (Loire)||with Crotins de Chavignols (Loire)||Smoked mackerel and creme fraiche pâté on rye crackers|
|Montagny 1er Cru (Burgundy)||with Comté (Franche-Comté)||Coronation chicken and cous-cous cups|
|Beaujolais (Burgundy)||with Saint Nectaire (Auvergne)|
|Bourgogne (Burgundy)||with Brie de Meaux (Seine-et-Marne)||Mushroom and thyme filo purses|
|Cotes du Rhone (Rhone)||with Tomme de Savoie (Savoie)|
|Lussac St. Emilion (Bordeaux)||with Roblochon (Savoie)||Rare beef and horseradish on parmesan crisps|
|Sauternes (Bordeaux)||with Roquefort (Midi-Pyrénées)||Honeyed nuts|
We drank Champagne, we drank wines, we ate cheese, we ate canapés, we played some games, we spoke in French, we turned the flat upside down looking for jelly babies and we learnt a mildly amusing anecdote about how Saint-Nectaire got its name – someone definitely chuckled – and there was little time for anything else.
Thank you to Jennie, Kate, Rosie and all the manifiques hens.