If you’re sitting at your desk right now craving a wedge of Camembert Le Conquerant or Pont-l'Évêque, we’ve got good news for you. Handpicked Wines – which has its cellar door in Chippendale and six vineyards across Australia – has launched an online cheese shop that delivers your fromage in three hours anywhere within a 10-kilometre radius of Sydney’s CBD.
Four varieties of cheese are available: soft white, blue, washed-rind and semi-hard. There’s also charcuterie and caviar. Every product has a recommended wine to match with it, chosen by Handpicked’s cellar door staff.
“Our cellar door team are super passionate about food pairing,” Handpicked’s Imogen Hayes tells Broadsheet. “We have a couple of people on our team who focus on sourcing high-quality products that complement our wines. We work with a few producers, but Simon Johnson are one of our primary cheese suppliers at the moment. They have great stuff and we trust them to help guide us in the selection process. The selection depends on time of year, seasonality and also wines of focus.”
Hayes says Handpicked decided to add a cheese element to its offering because “cheese is always our first go-to pairing for wine – it’s hard to find anyone that doesn’t love wine with a cheese plate … If you’re going to have a night in, do it right, that’s what we reckon.”
As well as individual cheeses – which are sold by the gram – wine and cheese boxes, which include glasses and crackers, are available. And there’s a “Starter Pack”, which comes with your choice of three wines, three cheeses, three meats, and crackers and condiments.
If you fancy building your own cheese-and-charcuterie plate (aka dinner), there’s cheese from Australia and abroad. Pick up a wedge of one of this country’s best cheeses, Holy Goat La Luna soft white from Castlemaine, Victoria; a blue from France’s Basque region; an English stilton; or a Pyengana clothbound cheddar from Tassie. Team your cheese with any of the meats for sale – smoked Wagyu beef from the Barossa Valley, say, or Serrano jamon. If you’re feeling fancy there’s a bunch of caviars to pick from, as well as anchovy fillets, cornichons and lavosh crackers.
“There are a few well known ‘rules’ with wine pairing,” says Hayes. “Cheeses can be put into categories such as creamy and soft, hard, aged, sharp, and salty. Then when matching with wine you have to look at the acidity level, the texture or ‘weight’ of the wine (e.g. light-bodied) and the aromatic qualities. For example, pair a strong cheese with a big wine – like an aged sharp cheddar with a bold shiraz. One of our favourite cheeses in Australia – the Holy Goat La Luna – pairs beautifully with one of our best wines, the Handpicked Wombat Creek Yarra Valley Chardonnay.
Handpicked delivers cheese within a 10-kilometre radius of its Chippendale venue. Express delivery (three hours) is $15.