Under the Spotlight: Wensleydale

Made for nearly 400 years by Cistercian monks, before passing the baton to farmers throughout North Yorkshire. Originally, Wensleydale was made entirely with sheep’s milk – a tradition which is still honoured today, albeit in smaller quantities.

Did you know?

The art of making the cheese was passed by the monks to the farmer’s wives who produced a blue variety of Wensleydale at their farmhouses. During the 14th century they started to use cows’ milk instead, and the character of the cheese began to change. At this time, Wensleydale was almost always found to be a blue cheese and the white variety was rarely known. However, now, it is the opposite, with blue Wensleydale rarely seen and white wensleydale being the most popular of choice.

Perfect food pairing

The delicate flavour of Wensleydale, with mellow notes of honey, make it a natural partner for fruit. You will see plenty of Wensleydale varieties that contain fruit in them from the offset – cranberries, for instance. Apple pie and fruit cake are frequently served with Wensleydale – leading to the creation of a (not necessarily common) saying, “an apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze”.

Did you know?

Wensleydale is a creamy cheese, white in colour, crumbly, moist with a flaky texture. It is quite similar to a young Caerphilly. The flavour is mild, clean, and slightly sweet with hints of wild honey savour and fresh acidity. As it ages, the cheese develops a fuller, deeper flavour as well becomes firmer.

Perfect drink pairing 

With respect to perfect pairings for Wensleydale, we defer to the expertise of Oddbins’ Ben Gubbins. In an interview with Shortlist, Ben recommended pairing Wensleydale with “a full-bodied white – a Burgundy or white from the Rhone Valley”. As for red wine, his recommendations were more broad: “Most reds will work as Wensleydale is crumbly and doesn’t stick to the palette. Just make sure it’s not too light”. Couldn’t have said it better ourselves, frankly.