Kirsty Woodgate DipWSET and Academy of Cheese Associate
Few counties in the UK can rival Kent for its quality produce. Fruit-filled orchards thrive on Kent’s well-drained soils; Picturesque vineyards grow on gentle slopes; And high welfare livestock supply locals with cheese and meat.
With so much on offer, let me inspire you to throw a Garden (of England) party to highlight some of Kent’s best delicacies.
Greet your guests…..with a luxury English Sparkling wine
All good parties start with a sparkle. Set the standards high with Gusbourne’s Traditional Method Rosé, which epitomises a warm English Summer. With notes of simmered strawberry and apples fresh from the orchard, this beautiful wine will please all palates. Serve at 8-10˚c.
Get your guests talking…with a white wine made from the red Pinot Meunier grape
Simpsons Derringstone Pinot Meunier 2021 is made from red grapes…looks like a golden rosé… yet is vinified as a white wine. It is a fruity, well-rounded wine that will delight, confuse and intrigue your guests all at once.
To explain this phenomenon, the delicate gold-pink hue sneaks in from the skin of the red grapes whilst the juice is pressed. There is no intentional soaking with the skins like there would be for rosé or red wine.
This wine is delicate in flavour, and should be matched with an equally gentle morsel. I recommend Kent’s NORTH Charcuterie thinly sliced Rosemary and Thyme Coppa, a cured and dried collar of pork.
Grace your guests… with their second sparkling wine
Red wine is frequently paired with cheese, but white and sparkling also work fantastically. Chapel Down Three Graces is a high quality blend of three grapes, renowned for making great sparkling wine. Serve with a soft cheese, such as Cheesemakers of Canterbury’s Dargate Dumpy, which is a sheep’s milk cheese in the style of Camembert. The autolytic biscuit and apple notes pair beautifully with cheese, and the bubbles cleanse the palate.
Talking of cheese, your cheeseboard will ideally have three to five cheeses (with hard, soft and blue). Cheesemakers of Canterbury have a wide selection of local cheeses, including the smoky Ashmore, a hard cheese from British Friesian cows. The recommended amount of cheese per person (in total) is around 100g – and don’t forget to bring them to room temperature before serving.
Go for flavour…with more meat and cheese
As the afternoon draws in, it is time for a beautiful glass of red. Pinot Noir is a versatile wine that works wonderfully with a wide variety of cheeses. Luke’s Pinot Noir, Balfour Hush Heath Estate is therefore perfect for pairing with your cheeseboard. I find it works remarkably well with Kelly’s Goat, a hard goat’s cheese from Cheesemakers of Canterbury. The creamy, peppery cheese sits well against the rich bouquet of the Pinot Noir.
This wine is also a fantastic accompaniment to meat. NORTH Charcuteries air-dried, ex-dairy beef Bresaola with flavours of juniper, pepper and nutmeg will really elevate your party. For guests who like a bit of spice, their Calabrese Salami with its hot pepper will be exaggerated with the alcohol from the wine.
Give your guests something sweet to finish…with a traditional Kent pie
Kentish legend says that Gypsy Tart, a sweet caramel flavoured dessert, was born when a lady threw together three ingredients to feed some hungry gypsy children.
A sweet dessert needs a sweet wine, and Biddenden Schönburger is ideal for this. This wine is low in alcohol but high in flavour. Refreshing elderflower and mouth-watering lychee sing from the glass. This wine is not a ‘sticky’ sweet wine such as a Sauternes, but instead it has a stylish, restrained sweetness reminiscent of a delightful Moscato d’Asti.