Long time readers of my blog and followers of my Instagram will be well acquainted with my love affair with The Cheese and Wine Shop. I’m so excited to welcome them to the blog today as part of my 12 Days of Christmas series!
Hello and welcome to the blog! Would you like to introduce yourself?
We’re Claire & Katy, owners of the Cheese and Wine Shop. We live in Darlington with our two dogs Abraham & Sylvia. Claire is originally from the Boro (#UTB) and Katy is proud to be Darlington born and bred.
Tell us about The Cheese and Wine Shop!
We bought the Cheese and Wine Shop when it went up for sale by the previous owners. It’s been in the town for 21 years: some of your older readers might remember it as Rock 90, the poster shop, but very originally it was the Pease family’s Wine Merchants and still sits on top of the original wine cellar.
We stock more than just cheese and wine; we have an extensive range of craft ales, local cider, honey and preserves, Italian and Spanish Deli goodies, artisan pastas, Spirits and some fabulous biscuits for cheese.
There are certainly plenty of gems in there! What’s it like running a business at this time of year?
Absolutely awful! It’s so busy because we probably make 30% of our annual turnover in December. It’s back breaking work, you’re relying on couriers being on time, and suppliers not letting you down and that you can “forecast” accurately. Last year ,we had customers popping in on Christmas Eve and we were out of stock of a lot of cheese. Cheese lasts a good couple of weeks once cut, so please don’t leave it last minute!
It must be stressful. What does a perfect Christmas look like for you?
A real tree is essential, homemade snowballs while we’re trimming it, along with Now That’s What I Call Christmas on vinyl, on repeat for the whole of December… lots of festive food (homemade mince pies, pigs in blankets, baked Camembert and wine of course!) and board games. We also rewatch every Christmas movie we love, every year. This year we’re starting with Home Alone at Daisy Duke’s Drive In!
That sounds so lovely! We all know I have some favourites in your shop (hello Manchego and Brie) but if you could recommend one product to a new customer, what would it be?
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford it, we highly recommend treating yourself to a Vacherin Mont D’Or; it’s like a Camembert but a million times better and you can eat it like a fondue. Pair it with Beaujolais Nouveau or a nice Michel Loriot Champagne for a lovely Christmas Eve treat (the Beaujolais goes incredibly well with Turkey too on Christmas Day!)
What’s the secret to a perfect cheese board?
Let us do it for you!
You are the experts after all… What are you hoping for this Christmas?
Claire’s asked for a Ukulele from Santa Claus and as usual, Katy has a list a mile long… in all seriousness though, we’re both hoping for people in our lovely town to look after each other, be kind, be safe and enjoy a little festive twinkle no matter how they do that; even if it’s a walk around to enjoy all the decorations in windows and in town that have gone up unseasonably early this year!
What’s next for The Cheese and Wine Shop in 2021?
Well, our not so well kept secret is that we’re on the cusp of opening a Cheese and Wine Tasting Room next door to the existing shop. It’ll be relaxed, fun and friendly – Kelly, you’ve been to one of our tasting nights, you can probably tell your readers more…
I have indeed and it was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time! I’ll be knocking on the door on opening night…
If you want to order some cheese and wine for yourself (or others), you can find their website here.