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Napoléon thought it fine – but what is to say about Cheese and Wine?!

Most of us are old enough to remember the retro ‘Cheese and Wine’ party! And although the canapés were usually not exclusive to cheese and rather included all kinds of eatables on a cocktail stick, the term ‘Cheese and Wine’ more than suggested that cheese and wine should be a good combination.

But, cheese and wine as a combination was popular before the time of Tupperware parties – they seemed to have been the inspiration of just about all still life paintings … and according to “Napoléon is said to have been partial to [this] cheese (France’s famous Epoisses) and ate in in large quantities with Chambertin wine.”

When winemakers and culinary experts then tell you that the pairing of cheese and wine is more often than not, not ideal, it is quite something to get your head around!

South African expert in Food and Wine Pairing, Katinka van Niekerk, explains: “They don’t. In fact, cheese is one of the trickiest foods to match with wine.” And we should not be surprised! “Many cheeses have a strong taste and are pungently aromatic: they can have a high fat, salt or acid content, and some have a sticky texture that coats the taste buds. All these challenging features spell trouble when it comes to pairing cheese with wine.”

There are, however, some cheese and wine pairings that work exceptionally well, such as the trusted combination of Sauvignon Blanc with goat’s-milk cheese (Chevin) and Noble late harvest with Roquefort. We are however often confronted with a variety of cheese and preserves on a platter and only one glass of wine. And while, sometimes, it is more about the party than the pairing, the delight of a beautiful combination, bringing out the best in both the wine and the cheese, is not something to dismiss!

So, in celebration of #DrinkChenin Day on 17 June, we have tried to find a cheese that you will enjoy while sipping on our Chenin Blanc. And, low and behold, we found one that does not only reference our beautiful Franschhoek Valley, but also (again) the passionate Napoléon!

The tale goes that because he liked it so much, Napoléon Bonaparte kissed the waitress who first served him Camembert cheese. Then in 1863, when Napoléon III was served the cheese, he liked it as much as his ancestor did and then named the cheese after its place of origin, Camembert. (read more)

For the pairing, we have selected a cheese quite similar to the Camembert that so inspired Napoléon: the Franschhoek White En Croute (Available from Woolworths, R62.95). This medium fat, semi-soft white mould cheese calls for a white wine with texture and some fullness, such as our Chenin Blanc.  The wine’s well-defined ripe fruit character and nuances of elegant oak also ensure a beautiful pairing with the buttery pastry in which the cheese is baked as well as the sweet-spiciness of the fig and ginger drizzle with which it is served.

The combination of cheese and wine might be complicated, but when it works, it can be wonderful!



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