Cider is the perfect cheese pairing.
Cider season is cheese’s best friend. Cider is much like wine in that it’s made with fermented juice and varies widely in style — from sparkling to still, dry or sweet, tart or fruity. Consequently, cheese pairing tactics for cider mirror the strategies that also work with wine.
North American ciders, with their strong acidity and firm backbone, are the natural pairings for the growing range of world-class Canadian cheeses. Cider rarely competes but instead brings out the best in just about any cheese, from the mildest brie to the strongest taleggio.
A large variety of foods pair excellently with cider for its natural fruitiness and low ABV. Sweet and dry ciders are not equal when you match it with food and a classic but acidity, tannin and body would go well with cheeses, chicken and pork.
Cider is excellent with cheese especially strong cheddars, but creamy cheeses and Camembert work well too. Sweeter ciders like Peary contrast beautifully with blue cheeses while dry ciders go well with goat or sheep milk cheeses. Pairing cider with vegetables, it is best to pair cider with wild mushroom risotto, creamy cauliflower cheese or butternut squash gratin. Autumn vegetables like roasted onion and fennel goes well with sweet cider. A sweet cider also matches very well with spicy curries and Asian food and aid in cutting through the spiciness and heat. Dry ciders would not work well as it will enhance the acidity or spiciness.
Another cuisine that goes well with dry cider is seafood and works as well as seafood and white wine. Oysters, oily fish and light fish also compliments the dryness of cider. Another dish that works great is chicken dishes such as roast chicken with a crisp skin, creamy chicken potpies and chicken casseroles. Cider and pork is another hit with the natural sweetness of cider complimenting the saltiness of bacon, ham, chops, sausages and pork belly. It goes without saying that cider loves fruit and exceptionally great with pork with apples or apple crumble.
Finally don’t worry too much about pairings; keep it simple and experiment a little. Try pairing locally made cheese and cider, or look out for limited-release offerings and pair seasonally.
Of course, cider and cheese are such great partners that simply grabbing a bottle of your favourite cider and a wedge of your favourite cheese may prove to be the best pairing of them all!