Skip the wine, cheese and cocktail pairings are summertime perfection

Cheese and cocktail pairings, photo provided by Wisconsin Cheese
Cheese and cocktail pairings, photo provided by Wisconsin Cheese /

Since the cheese plate seems to be always on the table, cheese and cocktail pairings are here to keep that wine bottle corked. While food and beverage pairings do reflect some personal preferences, a little guidance can make those flavors pop. Grab that cocktail shaker and the cheese knife because a tasty adventure awaits.

Recently, Wisconsin Cheese partnered with Jeanette Hurt, award-winning author of “Drink Like a Woman” and Ken Monteleone, Owner and Head Cheesemonger at Madison’s iconic cheese shop Fromagination to offer five cheese and cocktail pairings that will be the star of any summer table. Whether you want to showcase your master mixology skills or prefer to explore some foodie flavor adventures, these food and beverage pairings will make for an exciting summer.

While cheese and beer and cheese and wine pairings might be the more traditional option, the cocktail culture is on the rise. Often during the summer, a cocktail can bring a taste of refreshment that a beer or wine doesn’t offer. Even though it might not come with crashing waves or an ocean breeze, that cocktail can be a sip to escape.

What are some tasty cheese and cocktail pairings?

Spicy Margarita + Spicy Cheddar

If you love the heat, this food and beverage pairing is a must try. On a warm day, a spicy margarita is always refreshing. When paired with a spicy cheddar, the two different spice levels enhance each other.

Hurt says, “Each sip of your favorite margarita helps bring out the sweet and salty complexity of a spicy cheddar, while cleansing your palate with the acidity from the limes. Get ready to turn up the heat on happy hour!”

Wisconsin Cheese recommends the Deer Creek Rattlesnake. Since there is tequila in the cheese, the food and beverage pairing is an obvious match.

Gin Smash + Blue Cheese

Gin is definitely having a moment. Whether you like the new modern gins or the traditional piney forward gin, everyone has at least one bottle of gin on the shelf.

When thinking about this pairing, Hunt says, “a creamy, young blue will contrast beautifully with a botanical gin and the added tonic water adds just enough bitterness to wash away the finish, so every bite is as good as the first. The acidity from the limes will also help cleanse your palate.”

To enhance this cheese and cocktail pairing, consider adding a little honey to the mix. The sweetness of the honey will heighten the experience even more.

Daiquiris + Gouda

A classic daiquiri is always a refreshing summertime sip. With this pairing, the caramel notes from the cheese are highlighted by the sour notes in the cocktail. As Hunt commented, tropical cocktails and tropical influenced cheeses are always a delightful pairing.

In this scenario, she recommends the Carr Valley Reserve Gouda for a play on tropical flavors. Also, she suggests finding other complementary flavors to bridge the food and beverages. For example, a little lime zest or even some orange marmalade on the cheese plate would be a lovely choice.

Aperol Spritz + Brick Cheese

Aperol Spritz is always a refreshing summer cocktail. With this pairing, Monteleone says, “Mild with just a hint of nuttiness, a creamy brick cheese will compliment this cocktail’s bubbles and bittersweet flavors.”

Just like a great plate of food is an exploration of flavors and textures, the same can be said of a food and beverage pairing. A bubbly cocktail and a creamy cheese play off those differences.

Sangria + Wine Soaked Cheese

Balancing intensity is always important with food and beverage pairings. While the sangria can be fruit forward, the wine notes in both the cocktail and the cheese make for a lively combination. Since many wines have jammy notes, a wine soaked cheese can play off the flavors in the sangria.

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These cheese and cocktail pairings are just a few suggestions. Why not turn that cheese plate into a food and beverage experience. Ready to get that cocktail shaker ready?