The inside scoop on cider & cheese
Cider is an alcoholic beverage produced by the natural fermentation of the blending of apple juices. In the U.S., where the term "cider" usually refers to the non-alcoholic variety, the phrase "hard cider" is used to denote the fermented version. Cider is most popular in the UK, but also France’s Brittany and Normandy regions, as well as Ireland and many other European areas. It is a versatile beverage that can complement cheese beautifully. It can be equally used for cooking, in salad dressing, fondues and marinades.
Types of cider:
- "Cidre doux" or soft cider
copper/amber in color, its aromas range from honey to candied fruits and vanilla; a soft taste with a fresh, light acidity
- "Cidre brut" or raw cider
pale gold in hue, its flavor is slightly spicy (think green pepper) with a soft licorice-like touch
- "Cidre demi-sec" or half-dry cider
light in color, this elegant cider has an earthy tone with a hint of honey and cinnamon
- Traditional cider
light yellow in color, its aromas range from spices to flowers with a strong yeast taste
- "Cidre bouché"
better-quality cider; can be "doux", "brut", "demi-sec" or traditional
Tips for pairing cheese and cider:
Flavor intensity is important to consider when pairing cheese with any beverage. Avoid lopsided choices (such as an acidic cheese with sweet cider) that will result in one flavor overwhelming the other.
- A drier, and more neutral, mineral-flavored cider can complement a variety of cheeses. Ciders with a stronger apple flavor are more difficult to pair with cheeses.
- Norman cider (produced in the Normandy region of France) goes great with soft ripened cheeses such as Brie, Camembert and Pont-l'Évêque. The sweet tartness of the apples in the cider pairs well with the savoriness of the cheese.
- Choose a tarter, gently sparkling cider with a citrus-y texture and acidity for a triple-cream cheese. (Sweeter ciders would be too overwhelming.)
- Dry cider, with a lively acidity, goes nicely with Goat Cheese.
- A light-bodied, gently sparkling cider - with dry, smoky apple flavors, a hint of oak, and a touch of sweetness - is the choice for a rich bleu cheese.