There will always be a place in the nation's heart for cheddar, chutney and a pint, but the limits of what can be matched with cheese can be pushed much further. Honey, chocolate, vegetables or even a slice of cake can take a cheeseboard (or just a Monday lunch) to heady new heights. That's especially true when you add a glass of something unusual, from sherry or gin to sake or even tea.
Cheese pairing boundaries are there to be broken, but ironically it's worth following a few basic rules as you rip up the rulebook. The complex flavours of cheese can be grouped into families, such as fruity, floral, vegetal, mineral and savoury. Contrasting or complementing these with a particular flavour in an accompaniment is a good starting point.
The caramel notes of Gouda, for example, dovetail nicely with a honeyed Champagne, or match a nutty cheddar with a scattering of hazelnuts. Opposites also attract, which is why sweet wine is a classic foil for the saltiness of blue cheese while spicy mustards add a new dimension to sweet Manchegos.
The way acidity cuts through fat is another consideration. Zingy white wines pierce the richness of young creamy cheeses, while the sharp bite of an apple is the perfect partner for a rich Camembert. This final match also brings in the idea of texture; thin slices of raw fennel add crunch to fluffy goat's cheeses or try a brittle shard of honeycomb with a squidgy blue.
A ploughman's will never be the same again.