Waitrose has launched the first British cheese rind-washed in English sparkling wine. This pasteurised cheese has been washed in the retailer's Leckford Estate Brut by one of its expert British cheesemakers.
The Leckford Wash cheese is lovingly made by Nettlebed Creamery, a family-run, organic farm in Henley-on-Thames, owned by Rose Grimond, on the family-run farm her great-grandfather bought in 1901. Their cows produce organic milk, creating this delicious, creamy cheese.
Waitrose Leckford Sparkling Brut is added to a brine solution, and each cheese is individually washed by hand. This process is repeated twice weekly to build the depth of flavour, texture and colour, creating a delicious rind that encases the creamy, semi-soft cheese.
Sarah Miness, Cheese Buyer at Waitrose, said the retailer had been selling its label French cheese rind-washed in alcohol since 2013 when it launched Saint Vernier, washed in white wine, followed by Berthaut's Epoisses AOP, washed in Marc de Bourgogne.
"Being big supporters of British produce, we wanted to create a British rind-washed cheese to offer our customers variety for their cheese boards and what better to wash the cheese in than our very own Leckford Sparkling Brut," said Miness.
Will Torrent, Senior Development Chef at Waitrose said that the retailer had fun experimenting with cheese and different flavour combinations with the team at Nettlebed.
"Wine and cheese is always a winning combination, and once we had tried with our fizz, we were so excited with the finished product - we wanted our customers to try it," said Torrent.
Torrent continued that the cheese takes three weeks to make, and everything is done by hand, so customers can be sure the cheese has been made with time, care, and a little love.
"For best results, let the cheese soften up at room temperature, so the flavours and texture can develop and enjoy by itself, or for a real treat, eat it with a glass of Leckford to enhance the flavours even further."
The tradition of washing cheeses originated in the 16th century when French monks used the method to preserve their cheese, preventing bad rinds. Wine-washing is also common in Northern Italy - the lack of olive oil inspired cheesemakers to preserve wheels in wine instead, with Ubriaco al Prosecco being a traditional 'drunken' cheese in Italy. Rind-washing encourages the growth of desired bacteria and leads to an intense aroma and flavoursome cheese.