Cider and Cheese Tasting I

June 18, 2012

I mentioned that I needed to work the amount of cider in my cellar down , including the things I had bought commercially, so I decided to have a cider and cheese party at the end of May. I told my friends that I would supply the cider, and they were to bring cheese or some other food to help with cheese fatigue (Years ago, I went to a creamery in Sweden, which had a cheese buffet, and you found yourself taking the pasta salad because you had too much cheese). In my mind, I was trying to sort of model this tasting off of one I had read about a year ago.

I selected out a total of six ciders: Westcott Bay Extra Dry, a dry cider I had made, Blackthorn, Red Barn Burro Loco (higher acid), Alpenfire Bittersweet (higher tannin) , and Eaglemount Sweet. The cheeses that my guests brought were not as diverse as I had hoped, though they were some good easy to find stuff: mozzarella, an aged Gouda, Dubliner, Romano, extra aged provolone, a queso blanco we made, and a young extra salty Gouda I made. The store bought Gouda, Dubliner, Romano, and provolone were actually very similar and nutty (I don’t think the provolone or Gouda would have been that way if they hadn’t been aged so long). We needed a few creamery cheeses, but a dry run I had done a few weeks earlier on one of my ciders indicated the nuttier cheeses would work better on the drier ciders. One guest did bring a veggie tray, and we discovered that the water in the cucumbers and celery was excellent at cleansing the pallet.

We all sat down at my dining room table. I had gotten out paper plates, which ended up being accidentally brilliant. It was difficult to tell the cheeses apart by looking at them, so we were able to pass all the cheeses around the table once with each of us taking some cheese, and then we wrote on the plate what cheese it was. I then opened one cider bottle at a time to try with the cheeses.

My earlier assessment of needing a nutty cheese with a dry cider was correct, though as we worked into the sweeter ciders, the nutty cheeses started to fight it. Originally, people were not impressed with the Westcott Extra Dry, and while my cider was okay in their opinion, it was the last four semisweet to sweet ciders they liked best. Funny thing was that after we were done and cleared the table of the cheeses to play board games, people finished off the Westcott Extra Dry first.

There were eight of us, and I had us do some voting. The results where:

  • Best Cider: Red Barn Burro Loco with 4 votes
  • Best Cheese: 4 votes for the store bought Gouda and 3 votes for the Dubliner
  • Best Cider for any Cheese: my cider took 3 votes, with the remaining ciders getting one vote each (I believe with the cheeses presented that the drier ciders did better).
  • Best Cheese for any Cider: no clear winner
  • Best Cider and Cheese Pairing: no two people agreed

Afterwards, we played board games and had a cheese cake with some cider syrup I had made and mixed in with some of my homemade apple sauce.

I think in the future that I would just go ahead and provide about the same mix of ciders: dry, semi-dry, high acid, high tannin, and sweet. However, for the cheese, I think I would also do that and ask my guests to contribute a little bit of money. Costco has a great cheese platter with aged cheddar, Swiss, Havarti, and Gouda that I think would be a good base. However, when I tried that selection out as a dry run with my cider, I discovered the nuttier cheeses were missing, so I would buy a Dubliner or Romano for that. Depending on my mood, I would also get a blue cheese for those who like it, as supposedly they are great with sweet/dessert ciders/wines.

Further Reading:

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