Officially in business!

Thursday marked the inaugural tutored tasting of Bibo Wine & Events and we kicked off with a nod to Scotland and a Scottish cheese and wine tasting.  Despite what people might think, cheese is actually a pretty tricky food to pair with wine, mostly due to the fact there are so many different types and styles of cheese and of course a huge range of wines and styles to be taken into consideration. Being able to find that perfect pairing is not always straight forward, although when you do, there is no other food and wine match that comes close! 

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There were some delicious pairings on the night, a wonderful tangy goats cheese from Ayrshire made by Dunlop Dairy called Bonnet which was a dream with a Pouilly Fumé.  A sensational Clava Brie from the highlands of Inverness-shire by Connage Dairy paired with a rich, oaked Chardonnay from California and a Morgon (Beaujolais).  We couldn't have had a Scottish cheese tasting and not included an Isle of Mull cheddar which was fantastic with both the Rioja Reserva (Cune) and Langhe Nebbiolo.  The star of the evening, however, was the Hebridean Blue paired with a gorgeously sweet Monbazillac (tasting note below).

I could write a long blog on the whole evening but here are some quick top tips for pairing cheese and wine:

1. It is best to stick to 2 - 3 good cheeses on a board rather than many different types as it becomes impossible to pair them all.

2. Always consider flavour intensity and character.  Both the wine and the cheese should match up to one another.  For example, the sharp tangy goats cheese matches up to the citrus intensity of Sauvignon Blanc.

3. Acidity is key.  Cheese is high in fat and therefore needs wine with a good level of acidity to cut through and balance the fat in the cheese. 

4. Tannin.  High tannin wines, such as a Nebbiolo, do not work well with soft textured cheeses such as brie or salty cheeses such as blue.  Tannins needs lots of texture so work better with hard cheeses and they do not get along with high levels of salt which increases their bitterness. 

5. A rich, full bodied white is generally a great overall cheeseboard match. If you prefer red, try a Beaujolais Cru  (eg Fleurie, Morgon) as these are generally quite low tannin or a Rioja Reserva or Gran Reserva with some age so the tannins have softened.

As well as the wines and cheeses being on form, so too were all the wonderful guests.  We ended up a ladies only evening (FYI men are all more than welcome!), with lots of discussion, some great questions and definitely lots of giggles! I have to say though, after 2 hours of talking, tasting and trying to control a lovely group of 16 very chatty females, a post tasting gin and tonic has never tasted quite so good! 

Here are three of the stars of the evening which are well worth a try......chin chin! 

2016 Domaine Chatélain, Pouilly Fumé                                                       
Where to buy; Waitrose £16.99

Pouilly Fumé is 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France. Pouilly Fumé is very close to Sancerre (also 100% Sauvignon Blanc) and their styles are very similar.  This was a real beaut and a great start to the evening with lots of gorgeous citrus and green apple and a lively acidity but oh so elegant and balanced.  Perfect with the goats cheese but frankly, just lovely on its own as an aperitif. 

2013 Cune, Rioja Reserva                                                                              
Where to buy: Majestic £11.99

I LOVE Rioja and this one is no exception.  Cune is one of Rioja's oldest producers, founded in 1879 and who are still family owned.  They make traditional style Rioja which means there is a heavy use of oak which I adore in this style of wine.  Wonderfully soft tannins and still a lot of rich red and black fruit as well as some rich, meaty notes from bottle ageing.  Spain is definitely the country no other wine producing nation can beat in terms of its price:quality ratio.  At £11.99, this wine, as well as being produced from some of the highest quality grapes and top quality winemaking,  has been aged in cask for a minimum of 12 months and spent 36 months ageing in the winery.  Just awesome!

2015 Domaine de Leyrissat, Monbazillac                                                            
Where to buy: Waitrose £10.49

Sweet wines are definitely a category people are never quite sure of and probably have the least understanding on which isn't surprising as there are so many different styles and methods of production.  This little sweetie is from Monbazillac in South West France which is very close to Bordeaux.  Monbazillac grows exactly the same varieties as Sauternes in Bordeaux, produces the same style of wine at the same quality level but charges a fraction of the price.  The sweetness comes from an entirely natural process called botrytis (or noble rot) which is a fungus that grows on the grape and concentrates the sugars and acids by puncturing tiny holes in the skin to allow the water in the grape to evaporate.  It's just one method of sweet wine production but boy does it make the wine taste good! Unctuous, rich, lots of honey, orange marmalade and blossom. A complete match made in heaven with salty, blue cheese.