Combining cheeses with other products is an art that takes time to master. But the result — satisfaction from taste, texture, and aromas — is worth the effort. Specifically for Post Eat, Oksana Chernova, ProCheese expert, founder of ProCheese Academy, and judge of the World Cheese Awards international cheese competition, shares the secrets of cheese pairing.
A taste wheel is a tool for better describing and classifying the food and drink taste characteristics. These are concentric circles with sectors. Inside are general categories of tastes, for example, sour, sweet, and bitter, and on the outer circles are specific subcategories that complement and clarify the general characteristics.
Flavor wheels are developed for alcoholic beverages, coffee, and, of course, cheese. Each category of cheese has its taste wheel. There are more than 8,000 cheeses in the world. If we also consider seasonality, which also affects the change in taste, we will need more than a lifetime to explore all their diversity.
The art of defining flavors in cheese is an endless journey that will reveal new stories for you with each bite. Today I want to give you a small tour of two categories — cheese with white mold and cheese with blue mold. We will analyze the general taste properties of these categories because studying the taste wheel of all categories is a meticulous process, the results of which cannot fit into one article.
Cheeses with white mold
Cheeses of this category are characterized by objects of such aroma and taste notes as:
- wet leaves;
- boiled broccoli;
- raw almonds;
- animal etc.
The list could go on because the notes will change according to the selected cheese. But these examples will be enough to understand the basics of cheese pairing.
The product we plan to combine with the cheese should enhance its flavors. It’s the secret of a successful pairing. So, for example, mushroom lovers should focus on this particular note and add marinated, fried, or stewed mushrooms to cheese with white mold. And those who prefer cabbage will appreciate the combination of cheese with broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.
There is another approach to pairings — one of creating utterly new taste combinations — for example, cheese and apples. Simmer finely chopped apple with sugar and cinnamon until a delicate sweet jam forms. Or buy a ready-made version of a “sweet pair” for cheese — jam or even marmalade will do.
Cheeses with blue mold
Blue cheeses have the following notes:
- damp cellar;
- fallen leaves etc.
To emphasize the animal notes of blue cheeses, you can add meat. Jamon or dry-cured sausages are a good option for pairing with such cheeses. And vice versa — blue cheese can be used as an addition to the main meat dish, for example, as an ingredient for a sauce.
The cocoa note will be enhanced by chocolate or chocolate nut spread — Nutella or whatever you like.
Blue cheese also goes well with other types of sweets. You can use cocktail cherry and jam from strawberry or cherry for a pairing. Sweet berries will neutralize the saltiness of the cheese and make its taste more delicate and tender.
So pairing cheeses is both creativity and actual science. A successful cheese combination helps to balance the flavors and aromas of products, providing new sensations and impressions. For a successful cheese pairing, it is necessary to consider not only the taste characteristics of the cheese but also its texture, aroma, and origin, as well as constantly train your receptors.
To master all the nuances of creating cheese combinations, you need to get thorough knowledge of professional courses. Our ProCheese Academy conducts such a course called Cheese Sommelier. It is an essential module that provides a foundation and structure for mastering the core competencies of the cheese sommelier profession. Register to gain new knowledge, surprise guests with unusual accompaniments to cheese, and spend time with benefit and pleasure for the soul.