|Advent day seven, Ice Edition sparkling white and Biere Ambrée|
Day thirty-nine, Monday 7th December 2020
Advent day seven
It has been cold today and even before the icy rain started to fall, I found myself needing to add extra layers in an attempt to keep warm. Our quick cycle to the recycling saw me wrapped up with my neck tube over my ears, nose and mouth, just to stop the freezing air burning my throat. Friends who spotted us mentioned we looked like robbers on our getaway bikes and it certainly wasn’t the most fashionable look.
Baking seemed the logical thing to do to keep warm, so the first batch of mince pies have been made and another batch of mini naan breads are in the freezer and ready for our lunchtime soups. In keeping with the ice theme, my advent calendar offering is a JP Chenet sparkling white, Ice Edition, but I think I’m craving a mulled wine with a mince pie or two.
The Christmas flavours risotto I invented last night was delicious and a superb way to cook parsnips and sprouts plus use some of the roasted chestnuts from the freezer. I will definitely be making this again and if we can’t picnic outside on Christmas Day, we’ll be having this, with turkey, for our Christmas lunch. Tonight, I need heat and warmth, so it will be something spicy served with couscous.
France Trivia advent calendar, day seven, pairing wines with cheeses
I have spoken already about cheese and wine etiquette, but do you know which wines to serve with which cheeses, as it’s not as simple as opening a nice bottle of red when you present your cheese board to your guests.
Blue cheeses often have a stronger flavour which means a full-bodied red wine is not ideal, as the cheese will cancel out the flavour of the wine. A sweet white dessert wine like a sauternes, however, goes very well with the strength and saltiness of a blue cheese.
Goat cheeses can be young and soft, or older and drier and the older they are, the stronger and saltier the flavour. A fruity and acidic white wine, like a sancerre blanc, will allow the flavours of the goat cheese to fully express themselves and unleash all their power.
Fondue or cooked cheese dishes need something that will balance out the richness and high fat content. A light, fruity and refreshing wine, like a Chateau-Chalon from the Jura would be ideal.
Soft cheeses like camembert and brie, that are milder in flavour are complimented by sparkling ciders or champagne.
Soft cheese with washed rinds, like munster, are often the most fragrant of the French cheeses and they will need the stronger wines to stand up to them, like a gewurztraminer.
Medium hard cheeses like cantal are more than happy with a red wine like a côte-du-Rhone-villages or a Saint Emillion.
Hard, aged cheeses like comté tend to have quite a strong flavour and need something that offers a good contrast to their strength, and light, dry whites would work well here.
Please note, this is just a taster of the in-depth information that is available on this subject, even my trusty Larousse guide has an entire page dedicated to it. What I have noticed though, is in many cases wines and cheeses that come from the same area often seem to be paired together and this is certainly my experience of special meals we have enjoyed in the village.