Drunk cheese

The Borough Market stall sells an extensive range of cheeses. (Photo: Flickr)

Wine and cheese make a great pairing but what about cheese aged in wine?

The legend goes that the practice originated in World War I when an Italian villager hid his cheese, from the looting soldiers, inside barrels filled with wine marc.

While wandering around London’s Borough Markets on a recent trip, I came across a heady smell of wine. My nose led me to a stall called ‘Drunk Cheese’. The stall holder used the Italian word l’ubriaco or ubriaco, meaning ‘the drunk’ or ‘drunk’, to describe their cheese which is ‘cured’ in wine.

The legend goes that the practice originated in World War I when an Italian villager hid his cheese, from the looting soldiers, inside barrels filled with wine marc. Who knows if the story is true, but it’s a good tale all the same.

The Borough Market stall sells an extensive range of cheeses including Basajo Special which is a pasteurised sheep’s milk blue, covered with grapes and aged in the dessert wine Passito di Pantelleria; Briscola Bio which is an organic cow’s milk cheese aged in cabernet; and Bufala al Glera which is made with buffalo milk and glera grapes.

They also have cheeses made with spirits and beer such as Bluegins, a creamy cow’s milk blue aged in Italian gin and spices, and Dolomitico, which is a semi-soft blue cheese aged in malt beer.

The stall is definitely worth a visit if one finds themselves in London. They can be found at Borough Markets at London Bridge between Tuesday to Saturday. For specific times and more information click here.

There are examples of wine being used in cheesemaking in other parts of Europe, some which make their way to Australia. Saint Vernier is a mild washed rind cheese from the Jura region of France, which is washed in wine made from savagnin grapes.

As for our own local producers, Bruny Island Cheese in Tasmania produces Oen (from the word oenology) which is a cow’s milk cheese that is washed in pinot noir before being wrapped in vine leaves.

Section 28 Artisan Cheeses in the Adelaide Hills, produce a semi-hard cheese called Sunset which is washed in pinot noir lees from BK wines. It is a truly seasonal cheese as it is only produced immediately after vintage. It is only available between March and June.

Woodside Cheese Wrights, also in South Australia, produce Vigneron, a faintly earthy goat cheese that is wrapped in vine leaves before being gently washed in white wine. They also produce a robust semi-hard, vine-wrapped, goat’s cheese called Figaro.

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