• Pairing U.S. Cheese, Wine and Beer Creates a Flavorful Holiday Menu

    By Angelique Hollister December 21, 2016

    The holidays are a chance to add new menu offerings that encourage flavor exploration and conversation. A cheese plate pairs traditional delicacies with a wide-range of flavor profiles for an adventurous seasonal dish. The main ingredient is outstanding-quality specialty cheeses from the United States, which offer innovative flavors for an impressive appetizer, entrée or dessert. Here are a few pairings we hope will help you successfully create a U.S. cheese plate to expand your menu in time for the holidays.

    The United States is the largest cheesemaking country in the world, crafting hundreds of different cheeses and more than 5 million metric tons yearly. American cheese makers consistently win top honors at international competitions because of their passion for both tradition and innovation, so it is no wonder U.S. cheeses are popping up on menus everywhere. With the huge selection of cheeses available from the United States, pairing options with wine and beer are almost endless. However, not all combinations work, which makes preparation a delicious, but precise task. Here are some tips to make pairing U.S. cheese with wine and beer a breeze!

    Strategic mixing for an elegant duo

    Cheese-Wine2.jpgA good cheese and wine combination has flavors that either complement or contrast with one another to please the palate. Cheese and wine are referred to as a quintessential combination because each has the ability to improve the taste of the other. Each bite of cheese will entice and enhance a sip of wine, and vice versa. Because cheeses vary in pungency, moisture, texture and flavor, and wines vary in acidity, sweetness, body and structure, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind before serving this dish.

    The trick to creating a perfect pair is to combine fresher cheeses with lighter, sweeter wines and aged cheeses with deeper, bitter wines. Because the characteristics of cheese change with age, pair them with wine based on flavor intensity—match young cheeses with wines that are juicy and fruity, and aged cheeses with wines that have more body and complexity. With the addition of some basic breads, vegetables, nuts and fruits, wine and cheese becomes an entire meal, full of diverse flavors to satisfy a range of taste preferences.

    Perfectly mingling a timeless pair

    Cheese-Beer.jpgThe pairing of cheese and beer is a tradition that dates back to their origins as farm products consumed together daily as part of early farm life. It continues to be a satisfying duo that is frequently enjoyed around the world, no matter the occasion. When pairing cheese with beer, the flavors mingle together more than sharply contrast with or sweetly complement one another. Similar to pairing cheese and wine, pair cheese and beer based on flavor intensity to strike a good balance.

    Nutty and buttery flavors meld well with the sweet richness of malt. Sharp or tart notes in an aged cheese can be balanced with the pleasant bitter bite of hops. Hops also add fruity, sometimes citrusy, aromas and flavors to beer that play well with the fruity flavors in some cheeses. Yeast also can impact a wide variety of flavors and aromas and stimulate the gustatory senses. Its best-known impact is the smell of freshly baked bread, which can spike hunger in restaurant-goers with one waft!

    Serving tips for an impressive delivery

    Condiments also are a great addition to further enhance the eating experience! Add bread, crackers, bite-sized fruit, dried fruit, nuts and other ingredients to transform cheese and beverage combinations into full, flavorful meals (see infographic). Consider labeling the cheeses and, if possible, provide a short description on properly pairing the cheeses with their respective beverage and condiments to invite the passing of multiple cheese plates. Lastly, educating the wait staff on the different pairings and cheeses will amaze patrons, so visit ThinkUSAdairy.org to get more information about U.S. Cheeses.

    You are now on your way to a festive new menu option. Happy holidays and pairing!

    Cheese Consumer Trends Cheese Pairing Wine Beer Holidays
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