Cheese and Wine – two of my favourite things made simple:
At Christmas every online magazine and blog is full of subscription gifts. You know the kind of thing? A tasting box of chocolates once a month for a year, a bouquet of flowers once a month, a magazine subscription or friends membership of your local art gallery. But, for me at least that type of gift works best as a birthday present. And when Christmas has gone, the features stop for another year.
Rather than waiting till Christmas to let you know about two great, relatively new ideas, I thought I’d write now. One from Les Nouveau Fromagers and the other from The Grape Club. Know someone who deserves one of these for Christmas if they stay off the naughty stair till December? You can always bookmark the link for later;)
Les Nouveau Fromagers is a French company who put together a selection of cheeses each month and ship them direct to your door. The cheeses come beautifully packaged in sturdy polystyrene with ice packs, so there’s no chance of them spoiling. And there’s a helpful little book to tell you a bit about the different types of cheeses you might experience and then to tell you a lot more about each cheese in your box.
The booklet explains (in English and in French) the origin of each cheese, what wine to pair it with, a little about the history of each cheese and something about the specific maker.
In my box
Bleu de Laqueille, a cow’s milk cheese from Puy de Dome
Petite Buchette Cendree – goats cheese from Tarn
Le Cousin – a cheese produced in Switzerland that is then ripened across the border in Haut-Savoie
And finally Brie de Melun, a dense, saltier version of Brie de Meaux that is is produced in the Parisian basin.
The one thing missing for an ignorant English woman is how long to take the cheeses out of fridge before serving. I’m used to cheese from the Supermarket here. Brie and Camembert generally needs a couple of hours at room temperature to ripen properly.
I learnt from this selection that actually half an hour, to bring the cheeses up to room temperature, would have been perfect, at least for presentation. Having said that, the almost liquid Petite Buchette Cendree and the Brie de Melun tasted wonderful even though they perhaps didn’t look their best thanks to my enthusiasm for aging.
A great opportunity to try cheeses that I’d never have come across. And, a well balanced selection to enjoy too.
A subscription to Les Nouveaux Fromagers will set you back £32.90 for a no commitment deal or £29.90 if you are willing to sign up for a year.
Meanwhile, The Grape Club provides a similar level of detail in their monthly wine subscription. What I REALLY liked about The Grape Club was the size of the box. While I love ordering wines by the dozen, when I get a selection with detailed tasting notes I really want to wait until I’ve got the right meal on the table before I open the bottle. And, what you get with The Grape Club is four bottles – usually two reds and two whites, although my box had a half bottle of Sauternes.
Each bottle comes with a string fastened label that has pretty much everything you might want to know about the wine printed on the back (including how you can buy more of any one particular type if you want). I gradually worked my way through the bottles, trying very hard to make sure we only opened them for the right event. You even get tasting notes – what flavours you might be expected to find.
I particularly like the Torres Pazo das Bruxas Rias Baixas 2013 from Spain which we enjoyed with the cheeses from Les Nouveau Fromagers. And the Malbec, Trapiche Melodias Winemakers Selection 2013, went down a treat with Steak Tagliata, though a purist would say we should have been drinking Italian wine for that.
The Sauternes vanished when I put the bottle on the table at a recent bloggers dinner. Well, I did have an enthusiastic wine blogger sitting at the far end of the table.
The Grape Club was founded by Ant and Louisa Symington just under a year ago. They are cousins from an old wine producing family. And they seem to be on a mission to take us beyond the comfort zone of supermarket wines.
The subscription boxes cost £45 each – not a bad price for the sort of wine you could easily take to a dinner party or save for a special occassion. You’ll get to learn a bit more about what you are drinking and be pushed out of your normal comfort zone in the best possible way.
So, which will you pick? Personally I think it’s impossible to choose and I’m just waiting for someone to gift me both for the year ahead:)
Disclaimer: I was sent a box of each to try for the purposes of review. I was not obliged to write a positive review and all comments are editorially given.