Taste of the Vine

Wine tasting, Cheese, Gin, Real Ale & Whisky Events   •   22 years, 3570 events, 49 countries

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Photography by Lizzie Patterson

Campaign for British Cheese

How to improve your cheeseboards and impress guests with tastier choices that will help save Britain's food heritage.

In my twenty-two years in the events industry I have witnessed and supported the rise of England’s sparkling wines, micro-brewery real ales, and the recent boom in small-batch distilling. Since Taste of the Vine began, we have always made a point of serving British cheeses at our tasting events, but I see little evidence of them on event venue cheeseboards, and when I do it is often mass-produced. This is the equivalent of serving bag-in-box supermarket wine at an important conference or networking event.

I recently completed a research trip for a guide I am writing, visiting my top 100 British cheesemakers. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/features/future-british-cheese-brexit). Despite producing wonderful cheeses, every bit as good as their imported counterparts, many of our homegrown cheesemakers are struggling, citing a lack of support from the UK buyer.

Since the events industry is an environment where new trends begin, I am starting the Campaign for British Cheese in events (before launching it more broadly) to generate more interest for our wonderful home-crafted creations. I aim to do this by:

1) Offering free consultancy for event organisers, event caterers and event venues, assisting them with their cheese selection and service.

Please email me on francis@tasteofthevine.co.uk to set up a time for a chat.

2) Encouraging excellence in the selection and service of British cheeses with a Campaign for British Cheese award.

Please forward me your caterer’s (in-house or otherwise) or venue’s list for consideration. francis@tasteofthevine.co.uk

Details of recipients will be posted on my instagram feed: Instagram @francisgimblett

3) Posting details of Britain's best cheesemakers on my instagram feed and blog:

www.tasteofthevine.co.uk/blog

LinkedIn feed: francisgimblett / feel free to connect

Some thoughts on how you can help with the Campaign:

1) Choose British

2) If available, select a named small producer

3) If you can, check whether the cheese comes from a single herd, or small breed

4) Ask who makes the cheese on cheeseboards served at venues and events

With your help we can bring more people, healthier and tastier cheese to our tables and be kinder to our cows (see below).

Francis

Francis Gimblett, MD Taste of the Vine

On my soapbox

I would love the Campaign to grow beyond the events industry, and to play a small part in assisting the growth of our artisan cheese industry, as I feel time is running out. We have less than 10% of the number of cheesemakers there are in France and we import most of our artisan cheese despite having the resources available to produce it locally. In 1997 there were 27,000 milk producing dairies in the UK. In 2017, that figure had dropped to 9,500. That’s a loss of over two dairies a day, and it’s continuing to shrink. We’re producing more milk than ever, but the dairies are getting larger, cows are being milked harder, increasingly indoors, and producing milk that is difficult to make good cheese from. Small volumes of milk from small breed cows yield higher solids and better tasting cheese.

Over the next ten years we will lose most of the remaining small dairies and small breed herds unless something is done to halt this decline. I would like to see some of these dairies pair up with cheesemakers to give us more British artisan cheeses. Better for our economy, better for our cows and better for our food heritage.

Please follow the campaign, like and forward, and do anything else that promotes this cause and reassures me this might not be folly!