Last week I was invited by Branston Pickle to attend a cheese, wine and pickle pairing evening at London’s historic Canal Museum along with fellow food bloggers. As well as understanding how to pair wine with cheese and pickle, under the expert guidance of Julia Bailey, we were going to get to taste the limited edition cheese and pickle mince pies that were created in partnership with baker Lily Vanilli.
I love cheese, pickle and wine so this was an absolute dream event to attend. We started the evening by doing a tastebud test, using some special paper. Julia explained that some people wouldn’t be able to taste anything, some would be able to taste something slightly unpleasant whilst some would find the taste unbearable. I fell in to the ‘slightly unpleasant’ camp, which means I apparently like most wines (this is actually true).
After distinguishing which kind of tastebuds we had, we moved on to another test where we had to take a slice of lemon and then a grape and taste wine before and after to see how this affected the sweetness or acidity of the wine. Interestingly, the acid in the lemon makes the wine taste sweeter and creamier and this is why pickle works so well with wine – because of the acidity of the vinegar, it cuts through the acidity of the wine. Grapes are often found on a cheeseboard but actually the skin of the grape contains tannin, which makes the wine taste bitter. So pairing grapes with wine is not a good idea!
Cheese and wine pairing cheat sheet
If a cheese board features on your Christmas party or Christmas Day menu, then be sure to use this as a guide! All tried, tested and approved (by me).
Cheddar, paired with Branston’s Small Chunk Pickle and Ravenswood Lodi Zifandel, 2014. Zinfandel is normally a slightly sweet rosè but this Zifandel was red. I absolutely loved this combination.
Brie, paired with Branston Smooth Squeezy Pickle and Royal Tokaji Late Harvest 2015. I’ve not had Slovenian wine before and I was impressed! I did like the combination, however, as brie is smooth and creamy I think I would have liked a chunky Branson to add texture.
Stilton, with Branston Carmelised Onion Chutney and Croft Reserve Tawny Port. I adore Stilton and Port so I was really excited to try this. I am not an onion fan though, however, I did enjoy the chutney and it worked really well with the Stilton.
Lancashire, paired with Branston Original Pickle and Vouvray Domaine de Aubuisières, Cuvèe de Perruches, Bernard Fouquet. I love Lancashire as it’s quite a strong cheese so the combination of this cheese with the fairly acidic original pickle was delicious and then it worked beautifully with the white wine.
Edam, paired with Branston Tomato Chutney and Catena Malbec 2015. Edam is a fairly mild cheese and not one I would ordinarily buy but combined with the tomato chutney? Wow! It was fabulous. I love Malbec too so that was a winner.
Julia asked us after we’d tasted all the pairings which one was our favourite and my honest answer was all of them! I really couldn’t pick just one.
We were also give a limited edition cheese and pickle mince pie that has been designed and baked by Lily Vanilli. It was so yummy! I would have preferred mine warmed a bit but it was so tasty regardless.
We were also given a goodie bag when we left that contained (amongst other treats) a jar of Branston’s Small Chunk Pickle. A week later and I’ve polished off half the jar, by myself!
Thanks to Julia and Branston for a fascinating evening full of delicious cheese, tangy pickle and excellent wine.