Cheese Course : Stilton and Port

Wine Suggestion : Ruby Port, Italian Recioto, Late Harvest Zinfandel

A small portion of cheese is often all that is served as the sixth course of a formal dinner. And the pairing I have for you today is timeless, port and stilton. The fame of this cheese is due to Cooper Thornhill, the owner of the Bell Inn in the small town of Stilton England. He discovered the cheese in 1730 and made an arrangement with the producer for exclusive rights. It wasn't long before everyone in London was talking about this delicious blue veined cheese.

Stilton

As I mentioned, the cheese is named for the English village of Stilton. It is known in Britain as the king of cheeses. Stilton will be drum shaped with a thick hard uncracked rind that is grayish brown and slightly wrinkled. The cheese is crumbly when young and softens as it matures. There is a blue veining that will also increases with maturity. The aroma is sharply nutty, and the taste is nutty and fruity. True stilton will not be sold until it is 3 months old. It is the perfect after dinner cheese and is traditionally served with port. Cut in wedges to serve. Can be frozen, thaw on counter 24 hours before serving.

Port

A classic cheese deserves a classic wine. And the key to a great port is in the extraction of as much color and tannin as possible from the grape skins during the brief fermentation. The reason Port's fermentation is so short is to stop the yeast from consuming all of the sugar leaving the wine sweet. But high sugar means low alcohol and the alcohol content of port is quite high between 19 and 21%. This is achieved by adding neutral grape spirits to the wine in a process called fortification.