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Dec 14, 2018, 2:38
Hook Up Your Cheese Wheel with the Perfect Beverage Pairing
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Hook Up Your Cheese Wheel with the Perfect Beverage Pairing

What happens when a French chef and a cheesemonger are combined? Instructors get an education, pairing ideas and more thanks to the web series “The State of Cheese.”

By Rachel Kerr, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

StateOfCheese AlexElena1 webIn an entertaining web series “The State of Cheese,” Wisconsin Cheese joins Youtuber Alex from French Guy Cooking and Elena Santogade a cheese professional to expertly educate culinary instructors on how to pair beer, wine and spirits with cheese - and they have plenty of fun doing it. While a carefully aged cheddar or hand washed brick can certainly stand on its own, pairing cheese with the right beverages can elevate the flavors and take the tasting experience to the next level. Alex and Elena walk instructors through tips on pairing a variety of cheeses, everything from blues to gouda, to cave-aged cheddars and more, with a variety of beverages.

“Cheese and beverage pairings can be a great, creative outlet this time of year. Taste is subjective, you can learn a lot about how a pairing works when multiple people with multiple tastes chime in,” said Santogade.

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Basic Pairing Guidelines
Pairings can feel a bit intimidating and complicated – but educators don’t have to be a cheese expert like Elena or Alex to make it work. Start with the very best cheese and use these guiding principles to create the perfect pairing.

  • Pair like with like to elevate existing flavors.
  • Try matching intensities to create balance in the pairing.
  • Flavor contrast will create new flavors not present in the cheese or beverage.

In this video series, Alex and Elena explore why cheese is beer’s soulmate, explain why liquor is the fastest growing category to pair with cheese, and show how picking the wrong red wine pairing will ruin a palette. They will also show instructors what property in sparkling wine makes it an easy match for most cheese and uncover what two amazing flavors are found in white wine that are trickier to find in red.

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Tasting Tips 

  • If you are planning multiple pairings, be sure to order the tastings from lightest mouthfeel and lowest alcohol content to heaviest mouthfeel and highest alcohol content. By working your way toward the heaviest and most complex tastes, you will be able to enjoy the experience without running the risk of lighter tastes being overpowered by stronger, bolder flavors.
  • As a general rule, balance is key. The cheese should not overwhelm the beverage, and the beverage should not overwhelm the cheese.
  • Temperature matters. Room temperature is ideal when tasting cheeses. Be sure to remove your cheese from the fridge with enough time to come to room temp before you taste. By doing so, you’ll be able to experience the full range of notes and flavors.

Click here for a chart containing more ideas on how instructors can craft more pairings.