I was recently invited to an event which got me excited from the moment I saw the subject in my inbox. I was being invited to a milk sommelier event. A MILK sommelier event! It sounded weird and wacky and it involved milk, and I loved it.
It was being hosted by Graham’s The Family Dairy. Based in the heart of Scotland, the dairy produces an award-winning, home-grown range of the highest quality food and drink, including milk, cheese, cream, butter, ice-cream, cottage cheese, quark, sour cream and yogurt. Established for more than 76 years, it remains a family-run company with a focus on farming, provenance, high quality produce and a quest to promote the best of Scotland’s larder throughout the country.
And one of the many ways they’re doing this is by hiring their own very curiously titled ‘milk sommelier’, Douglas Wood.
A former chemical engineer, Douglas is the owner of WoodWinters, an award-winning wine and spirits merchant with outlets in Bridge of Allan, Edinburgh and Inverness and supplier to hotels and restaurants across Scotland. He combines a passion for nature and chemistry with a strong influence towards taste and quality and currently works with some of the country’s top sommeliers. And now, a dairy farm! While sommeliers are traditionally trained to identify flavours, length of finish, acidity and sweetness in alcohol and match these to food for a perfectly paired meal, milk also has its own distinct flavour wheel and Doug has worked with Graham’s The Family Dairy to identify some perfect food pairings.
The event was hosted at Bedales of Borough Market and I was excited to get stuck in!
As we sat down, it suddenly dawned on me that I had actually already tried out Graham’s The Family Dairy Milk for cooking, as I used the gold top milk to make halloumi which I wrote about on here way back in July 2015. You can read it here if you fancy taking a look! (excuse the very low res pics!)
We started with a prosecco to cleanse our palates (at least that’s what we were told, but who would turn down a prosecco to start?!) before sitting down for food and of course, the milk!
The milk was served in proper ISO wine tasting glasses and Doug recommended that the milk shouldn’t be filled to the top – the top part of the glass is important to keep free to release the aromas. It shouldn’t be served too cold, and you should warm it up in your hand through the glass.
We started with the Semi-Skimmed Milk with Longhorn Beef Tartare on a Potato Crisp.
Doug’s Sommelier Notes: A family favourite, Semi-Skimmed milk is a lighter milk that’s full flavoured with grassy notes and a hint of sweetness. Pair with a wholesome, gravy soaked cottage pie and a side of seasonal vegetables.
We then moved on to the Gold Top, with Tarragon Chicken Roulade on Brioche Toast.
Doug’s Sommelier Notes: Lush, creamy flavours define Graham’s Gold Top, with fruity undertones and a great clarity of flavour. Closer in texture to single cream than milk and naturally sweet, Gold Top is the perfect wholesome accompaniment to everyone’s classic family favourite, a Sunday roast chicken dinner.
Next was the Organic Whole with Cream at the Top, with Braised Oxtail Croqueta.
Doug’s Sommelier Notes: The Organic Whole Milk with Cream at the Top is richer in flavour, with smooth, creamy notes of white chocolate and panna cotta and a hint of grass towards the end. The cooling milk will soothe the palate after a fiery, flavoursome lamb jalfrezi.
The first sweet dish was Poached Pair & Preserved Lemon Tarte Tatin with Gold Smooth.
Doug’s Sommelier Notes: Gold Smooth, made from the milk of the Jersey cows, is a velvety rich milk, with bready notes and textured depths of vanilla and toasted nuts. Enjoy as an everyday indulgence, or as the perfect accompaniment to homemade apple and blackberry crumble.
And lastly we ended on Organic Semi-Skimmed with Cream at the Top, with Chocolate & Almond Biscotti.
Doug’s Sommelier Notes: The ‘balanced and fresh’ Organic Semi-Skimmed Milk is a full palate, fragrant offering with hints of buttermilk, vanilla and a touch of almond. What better accompaniment to a chocolate cookie, soft in the middle and warm from the oven, than a chilled glass of Graham’s organic milk?
There really was such a big difference between the types of milk (and breeds of cows producing said milk), and it made me want to drink it more regularly, I really do love it. Out of the list of milks, I had assumed I would prefer the organic milk because I expected it would be the best quality, but I actually just really loved the richness and creaminess of the Gold Top.
It was wonderful to have members of the Graham’s family at the event to talk to us about the business and different types of milk and their cows. They really are a close-knit family group who are seriously passionate about what they do. Follow them on social media, there are some lovely little anecdotes, like this one:
Do you drink milk or do you mostly use it for cereals and cooking? Have you tried Graham’s The Family Dairy milk before? You can find out more about the business and their wide range of excellent products on their website here.
I was invited to attend the event by Graham’s The Family Dairy but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.