Cider & Cheese: A Perfect Pairing

Cider & Cheese: A Perfect Pairing

Let's set the scene: You have your bottle of RAW Cider in hand. You’re looking to find the perfect thing to enjoy it with. How do you know what to choose? 

The answer is always cheese! 

But which cheeses go with which ciders? The answer is simple and, at the same time, not so simple. There are some important factors to consider, but when it comes down to it, it’s simply a matter of what you enjoy most. 

Pairing cheese with cider is deeply rooted in history as well as terroir (location). And there are also scientific explanations: food chemistry can offer insight as to why certain classic pairings do so well together. One can get hyper-cerebral about the topic, but it doesn’t have to be. This is the best time to be playful and experimental! 

With this post, we will set you up for successful pairings to enjoy at home, bring along to a gathering, a picnic, you name it. We will go over how to pair cheese with three different sweetness levels in traditional method cider. 

Another quick note to always consider when pairing cheese and cider together is the intensity of each component. If one is far more overpowering than the other, the less assertive one will likely get lost. Look for balance. 


Dry Cider

Dry traditional ciders generally yearn for something fatty but not too overpowering, such as triple creams and camemberts: cheeses that taste like butter, lightly herbal, or mushroomy. These cheeses are almost cooling and wash over the tongue after any tartness from the cider. Look for those beautiful, round wheels of cheese with a fluffy, bloomy white rind: you’ll be in the right neighborhood and likely won’t go wrong.

But be sure to ask your cheesemonger how ripe the wheels are because ripeness can drastically change the flavor and affect your paring. Younger, tougher wheels will be less assertive in their flavor, more buttery, fruity, and earthy, while their older versions get a bit more attitude with heavier notes of mushroom, garlic, and even egg.

Examples include:

  • Mt Tam (Cowgirl Creamery, California)
  • Kunik (Nettle Meadow, New York)
  • Langharino (Alta Langa, Italy)
  • Camembert (France)
  • Moses Sleeper (Jasper Hill Farm, Vermont)


Dry sparkling ciders with tannin-forward apples can stand up to gently washed rind cheeses and custardy blue cheese. The slight sweetness you get from these cheeses helps relieve the astringency brought on by the tannins. 


Examples to consider taking home:

  • St. Albans (Vermont Creamery, Vermont)
  • Il Canet (Alta Langa, Italy)
  • Chiraboga Blue (Single Producer, Germany)


Semi-Dry Cider

Semi-dry ciders are super fun to play with; they’re still dry enough to want something fatty and young but refined enough to have some restraint and even begin to seek out more piquant and zingy flavors. Semi-dry ciders tend to be a bit more complex than very dry ciders, so the possibilities expand vastly.

This is also where we like to bring in somewhat firm goat and sheep’s milk cheeses, as well as the English Cheddars. Seek out cheeses that are firm yet still have a little give. They may crumble a little under the pressure of your finger but not flake. 

Here are some cheese suggestions to try out with your semi-dry cider:

  • Montgomery’s Cheddar (Neal’s Yard Dairy, England)
  • Facerock Extra Aged (Facerock, Oregon)
  • Tes Leches (La Gruta del Sol, Spain)
  • Berkswell (England)
  • Ossau Iraty (France)
  • Mahon (young, Spain)
  • Morbier (France)
  • Gubbeen (Neal’s Yard Dairy, Ireland)


Semi-Sweet Cider

Ciders in the semi-dry category are just divine. The extra sugar in the cider means it’s time to enter the land of funky and eccentric cheese! Washed rinds, to be exact. These are those orange in color, sometimes sticky cheeses that smell like feet but taste like fruit and meat. 

Another group of cheeses that enter the playground when semi-sweet ciders make their debut is the Goudas. These babes are sweet and salty and often taste of caramel and hazelnuts. Pairing semi-sweet ciders, especially those with some tannic elements, accelerates the fruitness of both the cheese and cider. It’s like having dinner and dessert at once. You can’t go wrong there!

A few cheeses that we recommend include:

  • Foxglove (Tulip Tree, Indiana)
  • Sawtooth (Cascadia Creamery, WA)
  • Oma (Jasper Hill Farm, Vermont)
  • L’Amuse Gouda (Holland)
  • Tomme Brulee (France)


Final insights

If you can’t find these exact cheeses, fret not! Just ask your local cheesemonger what would be comparable to these. They love to talk cheese, and your newfound knowledge of some of these cheese names will get the conversation rolling.

Be sure to pull your cheese out of the fridge about 30 minutes before enjoying it with that bottle of cider. Warming it up will allow the aromas to begin releasing.

Be sure to use ALL of your senses when tasting! 

Look - What do you expect to taste when you eat the cheese or sip the cider? Does the color or texture give you any insight?

Touch - Does the cheese crumble under the pressure of your finger? Does it squish? What does the texture help you infer? 

Smell - This one is pretty self-explanatory, but really think about if the smell reminds you of a place, thing, event, or meal.

Listen - Do the bubbles indicate the carbonation of a cider? What does the cheese sound like when it’s broken?

Taste - This is what we are here for! What does each taste like on its own? Does the flavor of one affect the other? In what ways? Do you like them more together or as each individually?

And, if you’re worried about which to try first, the cider or the cheese, feel free to try both! One experiment conducted on the flavor combinations of cheese and cider stated that the consumption of cheese BEFORE cider significantly changed the sensory profile of the cider itself. So try it out and see what you think! We would love to hear your experiences.

Now, you are all set to do your own trials.

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