Cheese and wine. Never one to say no to a serving of either one of these typically Italian delicacies, it took a brief holiday to Tuscany one blazing hot August years ago to teach me the brilliantly simple pleasure of combining the two in its naked form. As is typical in Mediterranean countries, a glass of wine would usually be served with a little bite to eat. In Spain a great variety of tapas is on offer, in France the spread of fresh breads, cheese and preserves provides a feast on its own; and in Tuscany a single slice of hard cheese would suffice. As it turns out, a slice of local parmigiano reggiano or pecorino is single-handedly the perfect accompaniment to a glass of full-bodied Chianti. What heaven!
Much to my surprise then when I found that the Tuscans had taken this divine relationship a step further with regional speciality Pecorino Ubriaco or ‘drunken pecorino’ cheese. This very special version of the classic pecorino cheese is aged in grape must for six months, giving the rind its distinctive deep purple/burgundy colour and the cheese a delightful tangy flavour.
When you’re next at the local fromagerie, look out for this pecorino with its purple rind and enjoy a slice with some Chianti in front of the fireplace or on the porch come spring.