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Sauvignon with your matured cheddar. But how<br />

about a more local recommendation?<br />

“Most cheeses pair well with sweet wines, but it’s<br />

hard to make sweet wines in this country - never<br />

mind Staffordshire - because of the cooler climate,”<br />

Bert says.<br />

“What does go well together is a Camembert-style<br />

soft cheese with sparkling wine. That’s because of<br />

the toasty, brioche notes in the wine and the acidity<br />

that cuts through the creamy richness of the cheese<br />

- like a slice of zingy green apple. Halfpenny Green’s<br />

English sparkling wine works really well.”<br />

When it comes to sparkling wines, and Champagne<br />

in particular, Bert believes It’s important to support<br />

smaller growers rather than the big names. One of<br />

the biggest companies in the world, LVMH, owns<br />

Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot<br />

and Krug.<br />

“They’ve very cleverly turned Champagne into a<br />

luxury commodity rather than a wine style, which<br />

I don’t think is right because I think Champagne<br />

should be for everyone,” he argues.<br />

“We call them ‘growers’ because they used to supply<br />

all the grapes for the big houses, but those houses<br />

have priced the growers out of making their own<br />

wine. Now there are a lot of these small wineries<br />

in Champagne. You’ve got to have Champagne at<br />

Christmas really, but supporting these smaller names<br />

is a great way to go.<br />

“Otherwise, I love Cava at Christmas. It’s getting<br />

better and better and you don’t have to spend that<br />




much to get a great example. It’s a nice refresh for<br />

your palate, too.”<br />

What about that other most familiar of Christmas<br />

tipples: mulled wine?<br />

“I think making mulled cider is much more<br />

interesting,” says Bert. “You can get really<br />

good organic cider from Dunkertons. It’s<br />

lower ABV than a mulled wine, obviously,<br />

and the traditional spices like cinnamon and<br />

nutmeg go well with baked apple flavours.<br />

It works much better than mulled wine, it’s<br />

cheaper, and also it’s a waste of good wine,<br />

I think - drink the wine instead!”<br />

When it comes to relaxing by the fire of an<br />

evening after all the presents are wrapped,<br />

Bert reckons you can’t go far wrong with<br />

sherry as a nightcap - and don’t forget to<br />

leave one for Santa too.<br />

“It’s really good value for money and there<br />

are so many different styles to explore. It<br />

tends to work with quite rich foods, because<br />

it’s quite nutty and rich. You can get Pedro<br />

Ximenez, which is like liquid Christmas<br />

pudding, or there’s Manzanilla sherry<br />

which is dry and Amontillado with a bit<br />

more richness.”

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