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Pairing Stilton with Port

Pairing Stilton with Port
Because of its exceptionally bold, robust flavor and delicious saltiness, Stilton can be notoriously hard on wines, causing an otherwise full-flavored varietal to taste flat and uninteresting.

According to Karen MacNeil, chair of the wine department at the Culinary Institute of America, an ideal pairing of food and wine should accentuate the flavors of each. And when it comes to Stilton, the perfect mate is a glass of good port. Because port is a fortified wine with a heavy flavor and distinctive sweetness, it creates a dynamic counterpoint to Stilton.

MacNeil recommends pouring a vintage port. Produced only in a vineyard's best years, vintage port draws from harvests of intensely flavored red grapes. Despite its comparatively high price, vintage port can be an excellent value. MacNeil points out that a single bottle can easily serve a dozen people, allowing each a 2-oz. serving in a moderately sized red wine glass. She advises swirling the port before tasting, then alternating a sip of wine with a bite of Stilton on a plain cracker. This creates what she calls "the ultimate seesaw of flavors," which will elevate savoring wine and cheese to a truly unforgettable epicurean experience.