So, is cheese and wine matching dead, as a recent paper research paper by Berenice Madrigal-Galan and Hildegarde Heymann of UC Davis suggested? [Aside: this wasn't the conclusion of the paper, but it was the theme picked up on by the extensive news coverage this article received, e.g. here.]
Last night I was delighted to be invited to a special wine and cheese pairing, held by chef and food writer Francis Percival and his partner Bronwen Bromberger of Neal's Yard Dairy. Francis and Bronwen wanted to investigate wine and cheese pairing in a semi-scientific way, and invited four tasters to participate - two with expertise in wine, and two in cheese.
The cheese dudes were Randolph Hodgson (who as the driving force behing Neal's Yard has almost single-handedly has been responsible for the revival of great British cheese) and affineur Bill Ogelthorpe. Wine was covered by the legendary Jancis Robinson and myself. I felt like a non-league footballer who'd just been asked to play in a midfield consisting of Zidane, Gerrard and Ronaldinho.
With a range of wines (doctored and undoctored), plus some very special cheeses (a few of which were doctored also) we had a very interesting time. I also learned a great deal about cheese. I'll write up the findings in full on the main site. In brief, cheese and wine can work well, but the traditional wisdom on ideal matches doesn't necessarily stand up to scrutiny.
(Pictured: Bronwen standing, Randolph at the head of the table, Bill looking away, Jancis nearest).