Non-alcoholic alternatives

Non-alcoholic alternatives
Keep in mind, these tips are from my own experience, I’m not a party organizer nor am I a sommelier or a turophile (a cheese connoisseur). I just love cheese, wine and spending time with my friends.

Is it possible to throw a sophisticated cheese tasting without providing an alcoholic accompaniment?

Luckily, cheese actually pairs very well with many non-alcoholic beverages. And, you can share the fun of a cheese tasting with kids!

There are non-alcoholic alternatives for anyone abstaining or done with wine or those who have yet to reach the drinking age or just dislike the taste of an alcoholic beverage.

  • Non-alcoholic sparkling juice – Pear is a popular stand-in for white wine and cherry is a pleasing substitution for red
  • Sparkling cider (or still dry cider) – Cider and cheese are natural partners. With its refreshing, bubbly taste, cider acts as a great palate cleanser in between bites. This is especially true for thick, rich cheeses. A carbonate beverage like cider helps cut through the fattiness and high salt content of a rich cheese, which balances out the flavour. Most ciders are fruity and slightly sweet, which means that they complement opposing notes, like those found in an earthy cheese.
    • Pairing a blue cheese with a sweet sparkling cider. The contrasting flavours would come alive together
    • Decadent cheeses like Camembert and Brie would pair well with a crisp cider. If you don’t want to play around with opposing taste notes, it’s never a bad idea to try Fresh Chèvre (goat cheese) and cider together. Both are sweet, light, and pleasant. Sounds like a pretty good substitute for wine
  • Non-alcoholic juice (even better if mixed with sparkling water)
    • The sweet, crisp flavour of apple or pear juice goes well with the creamy and rich Camembert or Brie.
    • If you want to spruce up the pairing, try adding a carbonated cider or sparkling pear juice in the mix. The light bouquet of juice fruits will help cut the thickness of these gooey cheeses.
    • A sharper cheese, like Manchego, could also pair well with a grape juice. In the same fashion, it can’t hurt to add a carbonated beverage to the juice for some bubbles. A Manchego has grassy, herbal notes, mixed with a nutty flavour. There’s no doubt that would be complemented by the tart, sweet flavour of a grape juice.
  • Non-alcoholic beer, especially with strong cheese
  • Lemon (not appropriated for some cheese), berry, cucumber and/or mint in still regular water
  • Sparkling mineral water like Perrier or Pellegrino
  • Hot tea – Black or oolong teas, which have tannins like wine or fruits, are another beverage option.
    • This may be surprising, but it turns out that wine and tea are quite similar: Both grapes and tea leaves contain tannins, which gives a tart, astringent flavouring. Only certain teas will contain enough tannins to provide the complex flavour necessary for a cheese pairing—specifically black tea and oolong tea.
    • Pairing a black tea with a light goat cheese, especially incorporating honey in the mix, will no doubt please those taste buds. The powerful, rich flavour from the black tea intensifies the mild goat cheese. Black choices among Darjeeling, Assam, Lapsang Souchong, and Yunnan, all full-bodied teas that can stand up to the creaminess of cheese.
    • If you prefer a mild tea, a low-tannin green tea would work fairly well. The clean, refreshing aroma of a green tea would pair well with a sharp cheese like manchego. Manchego is nutty and can sometimes be a bit gamey, so it begs to be mellowed by green tea.
    • Prepare your tea carefully, avoid bitterness and do not overbrew.
  • Cheese and coffee is almost too overwhelming. The two were certainly meant to be together though, as both are complex, varied, and full of boundless potential.
    • Espresso has rich, chocolate notes that would be highlighted by a creamy goat cheese.
    • Gjetost is literally caramelized cheese, with a texture that is thick and reminiscent of fudge or peanut butter. I realize how odd that sounds, but this sweet cheese would feel right at home with a dark espresso.
    • The flavour notes in a nutty Brazilian coffee blend pair well with an aged gouda, which is slightly sweet. The aged cheese also contains crunchy lactate crystals that actually work well with a smooth cup of coffee.

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Note: I get really excited about cheese and wine, so it’s difficult for me to be brief when there is so much wonderful information to share!

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Reference: Content and images based on information from: https://www.wikipedia.org/ https://cheese.com https://www.cookipedia.co.uk
https://culturecheesemag.com https://www.gourmetsleuth.com https://winefolly.com/ https://www.tasteatlas.com https://www.wine.com/ https://winemonger.com https://www.terroir-france.com/

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