A year and a half ago, I earned my Wine certificate. The result of that is that everyone around me has stamped me as a wine expert, and I get to organize wine tastings regularly. I find myself to be more of a wine sipper than a wine expert, but fine… It is always good fun to be able to tell other people about wine.
What makes it such fun to let other people taste wine is the reactions that you get. I love to surprise people and to acquaint them with facts and flavours that they do not yet know. And it works exactly the same the other way around, since I did not know, for example, that a wine could smell like fingernail polish remover!
I get the most reactions when I let people experience how wine and food – cheese in particular – can amplify each other. I often have people taste familiar combinations, like a Sancerre (a white wine from the Sauvignon Blanc grape that comes from the place by the same name, in the Loire in France) with an aged, ripened goat cheese called ‘Crottin de Chavignol’. A heavenly combination. Or what about a blue cheese with a glass of port? During my last tasting, the combination of an aged Reypenaer (VSOP) with an old Madeira was a big hit. Give it a try!
When I am at home with friends on the settee, we also regularly enjoy a glass of wine and a nice cheese. In the winter, I prefer a Vacherin Mont d’ Or cheese. This unique cheese is a seasonal product, only available in the winter months. It is made in Switzerland, close to the French border (Jura) and packaged in pine or spruce bark, which gives the cheese its unique aroma. When the cheese is ripe, then it is beautifully soft and creamy on the inside, and you can spoon it out. Delicious! Another option is to bake it in the oven with some fresh herbs, doused in white wine if you like, and to use the cheese for fondue. Personally, I prefer it pure, at room temperature (important!) and sometimes with a nice fig chutney. And with a lovely glass of wine of course. That can be any number of things: a local wine from the same region, a Riesling from Germany (with a mildly sweet note), or a nice glass of white port. Just see what you have in the cabinet and try it. You will be amazed by the result!
Recipe for fig chutney
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
120 g sugar
125 ml apple cider vinegar
1 stick of cinnamon
600 g fresh figs
Preparation of fig chutney
- Heat the oil in a large pan on a medium fire and sauté the onion until it is beautifully glassy.
- Add the sugar, apple cider vinegar, the cinnamon stick and the figs and bring to a boil. Then let it simmer with the lid on the pan until the figs are soft.
- Remove the lid and let the chutney cook down for another 10 minutes or so (or until the chutney has the desired thickness).
- Remove the cinnamon stick and let the chutney cool before putting in the refrigerator or serving it.
Vacherin Mont d’Or is a raw-milk cheese, so it is not suitable for eating if you are pregnant.
The recipe above is a simple basis for fig chutney. You can add extra ingredients yourself, like herbs. Or replace a part of the apple cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar.
Make sure that you use a sweet white port. Do you only have dry on hand? Then do not serve the chutney.
Photo: Tom Nooijen, tablecloth: Cottona glamour collection