Is boozy cheese just crackers? HELEN McGINN puts the trend to the test

Is boozy cheese just crackers? Gin & tonic Cheddar, Prosecco Wensleydale… Wine expert HELEN McGINN puts the latest supermarket trend to the test

  • Helen McGinn says boozy cheese is the latest foodie obsession hitting shelves 
  • Wensleydale infused with espresso martini to cheddar flavoured with Rioja
  • UK-based wine expert Helen gives verdict on cheeses for embracing the trend  

As great food and drink matches go, there’s nothing quite like a glass of wine and a slice of cheese.

But forget port with stilton or claret with a bit of aged cheddar, because the latest trend hitting the shelves in the run up to Christmas is not a pairing but a merging.

Yes, boozy cheese is the latest foodie obsession, from Wensleydale infused with espresso martini to cheddar flavoured with Rioja or gin and tonic. For fans of fizz, how about an Italian ubriaco cheese doused in Prosecco?

Mad idea or our new guilty pleasure? Puritans, look away . . .

UK-based wine expert Helen McGinn, gives her verdict on a selection of cheeses for embracing the supermarket trend – including Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Wensleydale with Apricot & Amaretto (pictured) 

AMAZING AMARETTO

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Wensleydale with Apricot & Amaretto, 200g, (£2.50, sainsburys.co.uk)

You might serve dried fruits alongside cheese, so there’s logic in putting them in the cheese. But amaretto? Let’s just say I was dubious.

At first sniff, there’s a pleasing fruity smell thanks to copious apricot pieces, but no hint of amaretto.

However, take a bite and within seconds that familiar taste of boozy marzipan hits the taste-buds and I find I’m wanting an actual glass of the stuff to go with it.

This one’s creamy, sweet, fruity and boozy — if this were on my cheese board, I’d eat more than I planned to. 4/5

GIN & TONIC TREAT

The Mouse House Cheese Company Gin and Tonic Cheddar, 190g, (£4.95, mousehousecheese.co.uk)

Helen said The Mouse House Cheese Company Gin and Tonic Cheddar (pictured) is a real delight for those who love a G&T 

Made by mother and daughter Erika and Mollie at their farm in Lincoln, this truckle comes beautifully packaged, and as a long-time gin fanatic my expectations are high.

Cutting into it, there are plenty of flecks of juniper berry, but the question is, can you taste the gin? Well, yes, there’s plenty of kick from the juniper, giving it that medicinal gin flavour — but what really surprised me is you can taste the tonic, too.

There’s even a sparkle. Unconventional, but if you love a G&T this one’s a real delight. 5/5

MEDIOCRE RIOJA

Aldi Specially Selected Caramelised Onion and Rioja Mature Cheddar, 200g, (£1.99, groceries.aldi.co.uk)

Helen said Aldi Specially Selected Caramelised Onion and Rioja Mature Cheddar (pictured) is sweet and creamy, but she struggled to find any Rioja 

This Christmas-edition cheese from Aldi comes as a small black truckle and given my penchant for both Rioja and aged cheddar, I had high hopes for it. It’s creamier than I expected, with a squishy texture. I would have liked more crumble and bite.

But on to the taste which, to be honest, was all about the caramelised onions. The overriding sensation is sweet and creamy and I struggled to find any Rioja.

Disappointing because, in theory, this should work, but I’ll stick to keeping my Rioja in a glass and cheese on a plate. 1/5

TEQUILA HEAT

El Gringo Chilli, Lime & Tequila Cheddar 200g, (£4.75, cheshirecheesecompany.co.uk)

Helen said El Gringo Chilli, Lime & Tequila Cheddar (pictured) is worth a shot, if you like your food with some heat 

You can’t miss this one with its lime green wax covering. The aged cheddar is stuffed with flecks of red and green as you might expect, but the taste is much punchier than I anticipated.

I couldn’t taste tequila, but there’s a real hit of vibrant lime and proper heat from the chilli that carries on long after the cheese has gone.

A little bonkers maybe, but if you like your food with some heat, it’s worth a shot. 4/5

SWEET PROSECCO

The Great British Cheese Company Wensleydale with Raspberry and Prosecco, 200g, (£5, gbcheese.co.uk)

Helen said The Great British Cheese Company Wensleydale with Raspberry and Prosecco (pictured) is best for those with a sweet tooth 

This red truckle, emblazoned with a union flag, looks unmistakeably British, but there’s a little bit of Italian in there too.

Having said that, the amount of prosecco used is only 0.5 per cent of the total ingredients, so it’s hardly surprising you can barely taste it.

What you can taste is the sweetness of the raspberry and, goodness me, it is sweet. Basically, it’s more like cheesecake with a salty tang.

One for those with a very sweet tooth. 3/5

MOREISH MARTINI

Aldi Specially Selected Espresso Martini Yorkshire Wensleydale, 250g, (£2.19, groceries.aldi.co.uk)

Helen said Aldi Specially Selected Espresso Martini Yorkshire Wensleydale (pictured) is her new guilty pleasure 

A creamy Wensleydale with velvety coffee liqueur and a vodka kick, says the blurb, which also promises butterscotch crisp pieces. Don’t get me wrong, I love an espresso martini (obviously) and who doesn’t love Wensleydale? Just maybe not together. And why the butterscotch? Also, it looks like sludgy pate in the packet.

Not a great start. But on tasting it, I’m hit with a sweet, slightly coffee-tasting cheese and it’s so wrong but oh-so-right. My new guilty pleasure. 4/5

BEAUTIFUL BUBBLES

Ubriaco al Prosecco, 200g, (£7.50, linastores.co.uk)

Helen said Ubriaco al Prosecco (pictured) is moreish, a treat for the taste-buds and perfect with Prosecco 

It might just be the promise of Prosecco, but this comes so beautifully packaged, wrapped in the shop’s trademark pistachio green and white striped wax paper, that I’m salivating before I even get to the cheese.

It’s a pasteurised cow’s milk cheese and traditionally the leftover skins of Veneto grapes were used to wet the rinds, imparting a hint of Prosecco.

I can’t say I can taste the Prosecco, but the cheese itself is a winner, mild and slightly fruity. It’s also impossibly moreish, like the drink! A treat for the taste-buds and perfect with (you’ve guessed it) Prosecco.5/5

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