Raise a glass with Stilton - In search of the perfect partner
In a recent consumer survey Port was cited as the only suitable match for Stilton. Port does work well: its sweetness is a great contrast to this tangy, creamy blue. However the search for the perfect match shouldn't end there as the flavours of Stilton marry well with an array of other drinks. The thing to remember is that Stilton is a full-flavoured cheese, so needs to be matched to an equally strong flavoured drink. When the cheeseboard comes out we are usually drinking red wine, which is easily overpowered by Stilton. Instead try a fortified wine - Madeira or a sweet Oloroso Sherry are a great alternative to Port - or a sweet wine produced by noble rot (sounds dreadful but is actually delicious!) such as Sauternes, Monbazillac or Tokaji.
But please don't forget the versatility of this wonderful blue: here are some simple everyday Stilton and drink pairing suggestions to tantalise your taste buds:
Stilton and Broccoli Soup/Dry Fino Sherry
Soup is notoriously difficult to match with drink - almost a case of death by liquid. What works well is a drink that is strongly flavoured, so you only need a tiny sip to cut through the richness of the soup and refresh the palate for the next spoonful. A dry fino sherry like Gonzales Byass Tio Pepe (widely available) works well when served chilled.
Stilton Risotto with Winter Squash, Sage & Walnuts/Champagne
A risotto is creamy needing a liquid with high acidity to cut through the richness. Champagne has very high acidity and the long aging process gives it a yeasty, nutty character which works well with dishes that have a subtle Stilton flavour. Try this dish with Mumm NV Champagne (widely available) which is a very food friendly wine.
Stilton Ploughman's (Pork and Stilton Pie, Stilton, Pickles)/Beer
Beer is often a better choice than wine whenever you have strong vinegar (sour wine) flavours as in pickles and chutneys. The sweet malty character of Guinness works really well with tangy Stilton. You could also try a strong ale like Bishops Finger (widely available).
Open Sandwich of Stilton and Smoked Scottish Salmon on Rye Bread/Single Malt Whisky
A bit like blue cheese, smoked foods demand a powerful liquid. Try this sandwich with a Speyside single malt such as The Macallan or a lighter Islay malt like a Bowmore 12 year old (widely available).
Caramelised Apple and Stilton Tart/Sauternes
Blue cheese has a natural affinity with sweet wine produced by Noble Rot (botrytis), such as French Sauternes, Hungarian Tokaji or German Auslese. The botrytis concentrates the flavours and sweetness of the wines allowing them to cope with the pungency of Stilton. Try Waitrose Sauternes (£14.99 half bottle).
Pears in Red Wine with Stilton Cream/Banyuls
If a dish is cooked in red wine it should be accompanied with red wine, but the wine must be at least as sweet as the dish. Banyuls is a fortified wine produced in the Roussillon region of France. It is rich and naturally sweet and works well with fruit based desserts and chocolate.