The Flavor Profile That Pairs Best With Stilton Cheese

Unless you're violently lactose intolerant, cheddar and American cheeses might be fairly universal crowd-pleasers. Even the pickiest eaters would be hard-pressed to turn their noses up at a Kraft single. But, while they may be admittedly lesser in number, folks who like unusual cheeses really like unusual cheeses. In 2016, chef Anthony Bourdain told The Chicago Tribune, "My love of soft, runny cheese — it's impossible to resist. A good, stinky French cheese or a good Stilton. These are things I really, really love. Dessert I can obviously live without." According to The Stilton Cheese Makers' Association, via CABI, more than one million Stilton wheels are produced and exported every single year — that's over 11,000 tons.

Per the authority at, Stilton is an English cow's milk cheese in the blue cheese family. It has a creamy, crumbly, smooth texture and is veined with ripples of blue. Like other blue cheeses, Stilton boasts a characteristically pungent, sharp, and slightly salty flavor. And, as the Stilton Cheesemakers' Association puts it, "a little goes a long way." 

So, as you brainstorm ideas for your next charcuterie board, what flavor profile pairs best with such a strong cheese as Stilton?

It turns out getting a little funky is oh so sweet

Believe it or not, pungent Stilton pairs super well with sweet flavors. According to Tasting Table's own Lucia Capretti, pairing wine with blue cheese like Stilton is all about matching strong with strong. Capretti recommends enjoying your Stilton with a sweet, fortified, red vintage Port wine. Vintage Ports offer bold flavor notes of chocolate, dark berries, nuts, and spice. It might sound like a peculiar combination at first, but the Port's sweet-yet-robust profile matches the strength of Stilton's savory funk.

On a cheese board, MasterClass recommends drizzling Stilton with sweet honey and serving it alongside fruits and nuts. Fresh cranberries, apricots, and pears provide a fresh element with a complimentary perfumed earthiness. If you're feeling decadent, the Stilton Cheesemakers' Association suggests serving it with a dessert wine. But palettes who shy away from the sweet side might prefer a full-bodied red instead. 

Perhaps the most important element to truly enjoying Stilton, however, is ringing up a few friends to munch it with. As James Beard himself once famously put it, "Good cheese needs good companions."