Two recommendations for the price of one.
I've said it before on this blog, and for those that may have missed it I'll happily repeat myself. Cheese & Cider, or to put it another way, Cider & Cheese, a marriage made in heaven. Yes, contrary to the opinions of the wine trade, most of which seem to believe that the only proper accompaniments to cheese are a Robust Red or a Zingy White (well they would say that, wouldn't they!), cider is the perfect partner to the Christmas cheeseboard. Now don't get me wrong, I'll certainly be rummaging around our small, carefully cellar'd collection of Ports for something special to go with the Stilton, but a really good Cheddar needs something far classier than mere Vintage Port, and that'll be Cider of course!
Bottled Luscombe Organic Devon Cider (4.9% abv) is as close to the taste of a proper draught Devon Cider as makes no difference. It's quite a chunky, rustic, and dare I say, unsophisticated cider. It's also unfiltered, and can therefore pour a little cloudy, something I'm not usually too fond of, but in this case it just adds to this ciders 'Farmhouse' charm. Pour into your glass from a height to help remove the slight sparkle, and you'll have the perfect accompaniment to a proper piece of tangy Farmhouse Cheddar. Close your eyes, pop a generous knob of cheese in your mouth, then swirl and nose a glass of this Devon Delight. Think Devonshire Summers, warm hay-lofts, cool cider barns and generous farmers wives. Lovely..... you can open your eyes now.
Luscombes Cider can sometimes be found in upmarket Cafes and Deli's, alongside their excellent range of soft drinks (the Ginger Beer is great for the day after if you know what I mean!). Ours came from The Case Wine Shop on Millstone Lane, Leicester. Another excellent alternative which is more widely available is Henney's 2008 Vintage Cider (6.5%), a still, full-flavoured medium cider, easily the match for a chunk of Keen's award-winning Cheddar. A sweeter cider like this would even hold its own alongside the pungent saltiness of a good Stilton. Ok, so these ciders may be a little too robust for gentler tasting cheeses, so my advice is... 'Don't buy any gentle tasting cheeses'. It's too late in the day for subtlety, it's a tongue-tingling whopper of a cheese you're after, not a prissy little soft goats cheese. Since when did Brie & Chardonnay transport you anywhere so nice on Christmas Day!