Wines

stilton

What wines go best with Stilton? Our palates are unique and what is a great pairing for one of us may be awful for somebody else. So you cannot be prescriptive BUT we can learn from what others have tried and we can experiment.


As a general rule, if you are eating Stilton with biscuits and you are looking for a wine, then Stilton needs one with a depth of flavour. Whether it is a robust red or a sweet dessert wine or fine Port, the Stilton and the wine should balance one another.


Firm favourites are:


• Tawny Port.
• Any dessert or pudding wine - Sauterne, Gewurztraminer, Muscat.
• Sweet dark Olorosso Sherry.
• A full bodied, robust red wine such as a Shiraz.


Where you have used Stilton as part of a recipe, then the choices become even broader. At a recent tasting event at the Gramercy Hotel in New York, the Executive Chef prepared 5 different Stilton based recipe dishes - starters and main courses - and the invited members of the Tasters Guild of New York gave their views on the perfect pairings with different fine wines. Read for yourself below their verdict.


Bon Appetit!


The following review is from a recent meeting of the Tasters' Guild / NY. If you would like to learn more about this exciting food group click www.tastersguildny.com

Stilton Over Manhattan
Friday, October 19, 2001
Review by Ron Kapon
Speaker: Joanne and David Lenweaver, Stilton Cheese Makers' Association


Its high butter fat content combined with its robust and tangy flavors means that Stilton, the king of cheeses, not only is great by itself, but is also a perfect cheese to use in cooking. The sharp and slight salty piquant taste enveloped in a silky texture makes Stilton ideal accompanying wine or matching with other foods. The new Executive Chef at the Gramercy Park Hotel prepared five dishes using aged Stilton. The dishes, Stilton and Walnut Quesadillas with Apple Fig Salsa, Stilton Stuffed Mushrooms with Herb Butter, Cranberry-Walnut Pie with a Stilton Walnut Crust, Stilton Twists and Stilton and Spinach Parcels were paired with appropriate wines.
The dishes and wines are reviewed in the order presented. At the end of the evening, the attendees were asked to vote for their favorite wines, favorite foods and favorite match. Notes are a combination of the speakers' and Kim Ginsberg, New York City based wine consultant.
Some 25 members and friends of Taster's Guild were treated to one of the most delightful tastings I have ever attended. This "simple cheese lesson" was a multi-focused, multi-hosted, multi-course fun evening! Questions about wine, wine and food, food and cheese were bandied about, shared, answered, co-answered and cross-answered.
The first course was Stilton Twists with Ch. St Jean Gewurztraminer, 2000. I was disappointed that the twists were not crunchier and more redolent of cheese. I was looking for a piquant snap in texture and flavor, to begin the evening. The twists looked lovely and the cheese made for a VERY rich but soggy dough. The Gewurztraminer was a good aperitif -- fruity, soft, off-dry to stimulate the appetite. The wine showed excellent fruit and a nice mouth feel. Though I think it would have been a better match if the twists were crisper and had that blue-cheese zip...then mellowed by the wine.
Stilton-Stuffed Mushrooms paired with Domaine de la Boissier, 1999 (from the Costieres de Nimes) was next. I had wrongly anticipated that the Stilton would overpower the dish and bury all sense of loamy mushroominess, and was thrilled to be so wrong! The generous serving was a perfect blend of a cheesy well-melded stuffing sitting in a perfectly cooked, moist mushroom cap, resulting in a wonderful rich, but not oily, smokey dish. The only correction I would make would be to place a torn bit of fresh sage leaf ON the mushroom, instead of serving the whole leaf on the plate, as if it were just a garnish. When I tasted the mushroom with the fresh sage it was perfect and so right for this harvest time of year. The fresh herb just pierced through, refreshened, brightened the whole dish. The wine, a blend of 80% syrah and 20% grenache, had a lively, fresh fruitiness of cherries and plums-- like a Beaujolais and the slight zap of acidity and alcohol just cut through the cheesiness of the food and almost lifted it right into the mouth. The suggestion would be to buy the wine now, and serve it with this dish next year!
Stilton and Spinach Parcels with Antonelli, Sagrantinodi Montefalco, 1997, seemed like it needed help. The recipe instructs a cube of cheese to be placed in the center of each spinach portion, instead of the cheese being fully incorporated in the filling. The filling also lacked the flavors of scallions and nutmeg prescribed. It was a rather flat, one-dimensional course, not helped by the equally dull yogurt and mint topping which neither tasted of mint nor had that tang of yogurt. At least the filling was a vibrant green and had a full, dense green-spinach taste, and one bite even had that magical, melty-cheesey flavor! The Italian wine was appropriate because it was robust, rustic and charming. Heavier and bigger than the French one preceding it, and it has that marvelous acidity of Italian wines which went well with the slight bitterness of dark greens.
Stilton and Walnut Quesadillas with Apple Fig Salsa with Rugate, Recioto di Soave Classico "La Perlara," 1997. What an Autumn treat..no trick here! Is there a more traditional (deservedly so) pairing than apples, cheese, bread and walnuts? Just add a salad and this would make a terrific Sunday dinner. The wine turned the dish into ambrosia, bringing all the various flavors together in the mouth. Nuts connected to the figs and the cheese by the sun-soaked Soave. The sweetness was just enough to round the edge of the nuts and melt the floury tortilla. And when was the last time we had a Soave we could boast about? The Costieres de Nimes also went well with this dish.
Cranberry Walnut Pie with Stilton and Walnut Crust matched with Le Catalan, Banyuls "Tradition," 1998. The weakest link in an otherwise fine lineup. The recipe does not call for a top pie crust and that instruction should have been followed, because the crust was heavy and pasty. The filling was an overly sweet mess of corn syrup, with no expected relief of tartness from the cranberries, all topped with soggy almond slivers. Thank God, the wine had enough acidity and supplied the liveliness to the dessert course. Like Port, Banyuls are fortified dessert wines, but besides the customary alcohol and sweetness, these special little wines are balanced with a welcomed dose of acidity. The flavors of chocolate, berries and mint shown though all enhanced by the rounded texture.
The cheese stands alone: Stilton is not a pressed cheese, so it is not as dense as, say, Cheddar. The rind is all itself, and was a diaphanous sheet of pale yellow. The cheese was not crumbly or overly salty or had any ammonia flavors, but was a rather creamy cheese with a wonderful smokiness to it. It gently breaks apart, demanding that you finish all the little tidbits. I did.