The perfect complement to baked feta or aged manchego

David Williams
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Alamy</span>
Photograph: Alamy

Toro Loco Superior Organico, Utiel-Requena, Spain 2019 (£4.99, Aldi)
From Delia’s cranberries to Nigella’s goose fat, when I were a lad it was TV cooks who had the power to cause a run on an ingredient. These days, the market-movers are more likely to be found on social media, with the latest fad being feta, the star of a recipe originating from the blogger Jenni Häyrinen that has gone viral globally with mutating variations on TikTok in the past couple of months, having already caused a shortage of the great crumbly Greek cheese in Häyrinen’s native Finland. If you haven’t seen or tried some iteration already, the basic recipe for Uunifetapasta (oven-baked feta pasta) takes a roasting dish of cherry tomatoes into which a block of feta is placed whole and baked, before being mixed with pasta into a salty, tangy, creamy bowlful. It’s a simple, comforting, affordable midweek dish that would match very well with a simple, comforting, affordable mildly tangy, juicy-fruity, refreshing red such as Aldi’s organic Spanish staple.

Thymiopoulos Rosé de Xinomavro, Greece 2019 (£15, Wine and Greene, Theatre of Wine)
The Uunifetapasta phenomenon has – if the number of views, posts, and, latterly, newspaper articles are anything to go by – got millions of people to fall in love – or fall back in love – with feta. It also got me thinking about what sort of wine goes best with it when it’s prepared in more traditional ways. A classic Greek salad is a high-acid affair, and the feta, olives, tomatoes, peppers, onions and vinegar all contribute to the sharp zinginess. You need plenty of acidity to match that, and some body, too: I find the great Greek white grape assyrtiko, especially when made on the island of Santorini by top producers such as Gaia Estate and Domaine Sigalas, has a tang-meets-tang compatibility with its lemony and lemon-skin flavours. The fuller body, but still bright, perky, but exceedingly complex herb-flecked rosé made by Apostolos Thymiopoulos from local red grape xinomavro, meanwhile, would work in much the same way as Provence rosés go with salade Niçoise.

Caliterra Tributo Single Vineyard Chardonnay, Casablanca, Chile 2019 (£10.95, Cellar Selected)
It’s not just the sharper, younger, crumblier sheep and goat’s cheeses that go best with white and rosé rather than the (still hardwired combination for many of us) red wines. Harder and/or older sheep cheeses – I’m thinking especially of aged manchego and its various Spanish cousins – also pair up nicely with white wines, albeit those of a more mature, less obviously citriussy, young style. The flavours and textures brought by ageing and/or fermenting the wine in oak seems to bring some matching savoury content: a shared nuttiness, and umami notes, while still retaining the mouth-cleansing acidity that cuts through the fat of the cheese. You could stay in Spain, and go for a traditional oak-aged white Rioja such as the creamy-smooth, macadamia nutty Bodegas Navajas Rioja Blanco Crianza 2017 (£8.50, thewinesociety.com). Or you could go for the slightly fresher, fruitier, but still deeply savoury-flinty and stylish Tributo from Chile’s Pacific-influenced Casablanca Valley.

Follow David Williams on Twitter @Daveydaibach