In our series on Canadian Cheese, cheese lover Ashley Linkletter explores why now's the time to get excited about Canadian cheese. When celebration is in the air and you break out the bubbly, don't forget the cheese! Ashley shares her tips for pairing champagne and Canadian cheese.
Planning on breaking out the bubbly this holiday season? With plenty of practical and easy-to-follow instructions, this handy guide to pairing cheese and champagne might have you making up excuses for bringing out the good stuff year round.
What Should You Keep in Mind When Pairing Champagne with Cheese?
When tasting champagne there are two main factors to consider as you determine whether a cheese pairing will be successful or not: its aroma (or bouquet) and the overall effect it has on your palate (which includes both taste and texture, as well as any other sensations you might experience as you’re drinking the champagne).
Make notes as you taste the wine, jotting down noticeable sensations without overthinking them. In other words, trust your instincts. You may notice that the champagne …
- Is nutty
- Has a yeasty or brioche-like taste
- Is on the sweeter or drier side (or somewhere in between)
- Stays bubbly in your mouth as you swallow
- Tastes of pears or apples
- Has a straw-like taste (or, “hay and sunshine” as I like to call it)
- Has a flavour than lingers (or quickly dissipates)
Keep your list of descriptors handy and bring it with you when you’re shopping for cheese and accompaniments. Better yet, go to your local cheese shop and give the list to a trusted cheesemonger who's well-versed in champagne pairings for the best recommendations.
A Caution When Pairing Champagne and Cheese
A word of caution from a former cheesemonger: because champagne is often reserved for special occasions, there seems to be a great temptation to go overboard with the cheeses themselves as well as accompaniments.
This might seem counterintuitive, but if there was ever a time to practice restraint a champagne tasting would be it. The experience of drinking champagne shouldn’t be crowded by excessive flavours and textures. All you really need for a gorgeous tasting is the wine, a special cheese or two, and the most basic of accompaniments.
I love serving buttery sweet Castelvetrano olives, salty Marcona almonds, seasonal fruit, and plain crackers or a thinly sliced and toasted baguette. And maybe duck rillettes or foie gras mousse if I’m trying to keep my guests well-fed.
The Best Canadian Cheeses To Pair with Champagne
Le Pont Blanc
Le Pont Blanc from fromagerie Au Gré des Champs in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebe is one of the few raw milk cheeses aged under 60 days. It's a super soft, rich cow’s milk cheese that's truly special to eat. In fact, Le Pont Blanc is so soft that it has to be eaten directly from its container or decanted into a small bowl or ramekin. Make sure you eat it as close to the best-before date as possible (or even a few days after) for the ultimate tasting experience. Yeasty, lactic, and full-flavoured, this is a memorable cheese that neither you nor your guests will forget.
Black Truffles from Mountainoak Cheeses Ltd. in New Hamburg, Ontario. If there’s ever a time to break out the truffles, it’s when you’re drinking champagne. This gouda-style pasteurized cow’s milk truffled cheese offers plenty of pure truffle flavour and has a mild nutty flavour to complement rather than mask the strength of the truffles.
Alpindon from Kootenay Alpine Cheese Co. in Creston, British Columbia is perfect for dry and extra-dry champagnes. Alpindon is an Alpine-style raw cow’s milk cheese that's sweetly nutty with soft notes of hay and sunshine.
Laliberté from Fromagerie du Presbytère in Centre-du-Québec, Quebec is a lovely triple-cream brie made from pasteurized cow’s milk. It's delightful when paired with especially effervescent champagne. This ultra-creamy cheese will coat your tongue in a rich layer of cream and is wonderful when juxtaposed against the bubbles from the champagne. A star in its own right, Laliberté took home the prestigious title of Grand Champ at the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix awards.
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