Top pairings | Some exciting drink pairings for cheese

Top pairings

Some exciting drink pairings for cheese

We automatically think of matching wine and cheese or beer and cheese but there are many drinks that work just as well and can give a real ‘wow factor’ to your cheeseboard.

Cider for example makes a very enjoyable lunchtime partner for a selection of cheese or a ploughmans while an elderberry wine or glass of sloe gin can make an unusual alternative to port for an after dinner cheeseboard. I also like soft drinks with cheese, which I often eat as a light lunch or snack, when I don’t particularly want to drink anything alcoholic.

Here are my suggestions for individual types of cheeses:

Goats' cheeses
Apple, citrus and floral flavours work well with goats cheese so I often turn to soft drinks such as apple juice, elderflower cordial or traditional lemonade with young fresh cheeses, particularly in a salad. With more mature cheeses try an apple-flavoured eau-de-vie.

White-rinded cheeses such as Camembert and Brie
Milder versions work particularly well with red berry-flavoured drinks. (I know I said I wouldn’t talk about beer but a Belgian raspberry or cherry beer is a great partner for a Brie.) Guignolet, an inexpensive French cherry-flavoured aperitif, is a intriguing pairing for a slightly riper cheese though if it’s got to the state where it’s oozing over the board you may be better with a stronger drink like a Calvados or apple brandy. Apple flavoured drinks such as cider and Pommeau also go well with Camembert.

Hard and semi-hard cheeses such as cheddar and Gouda
Again cider will work well with these cheeses if they’re not too mature but aged cheddars and Goudas need something more intense, rich and nutty. Dry amontillado, palo cortado and dry oloroso sherries (though these strictly count as wines they’re an unusual pairing), malt whiskies that are aged in sherry casks, armagnacs and artisanal dark rums are all interesting matches. You might also try sake of which I understand the author Max McCalman, affineur of Artisanal in New York is a great champion. I haven’t given it a run through but imagine it would go particularly well with slightly waxy cheeses such as Beaufort and Comté.

Semi-soft/washed rind cheeses
E.g. Epoisses, Langres, Munster and Pont L’Evêque when allowed to mature to the limit, i.e. the proverbial ‘stinky’ cheese. These are real red wine - and even white wine-killers so it makes sense to look for alternatives. The pairings I find work best (apart from strong Belgian beers) are French ‘marcs’ such as marc de Champagne and marc de Bourgogne and - believe it or not - Dutch genever!

Sheep's cheeses
The most wine-friendly of cheeses so what other options might tempt you? Poire William, I once discovered, was a fantastic match for Pecorino and I'm sure would go with other sheeps' cheeses too. You might also try quince-flavoured liqueurs on the Manchego principle. Bramley and Gage makes one and Emporia Brands imports one from Gabriel Boudier. I also like dry, nutty sherries and Madeiras with sheep's cheese but again that’s straying into wine territory.

Blue cheeses
As I’m sure you well know salty, pungent blue cheeses need a contrasting note of sweetness to balance them so any port drinkalike will fare well. Elderberry wine, sloe or damson gin are real champions. Going in a totally different direction, peaty whiskies such as Lagavulin and Talisker are also fantastic with strong blue cheeses, especially Roquefort.

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Comments: 7

Marcus on September 17 2013 at 20:27

Very good!!!

STEFANO on September 17 2013 at 12:48

You're welcome Fiona.
I'll go on following your good articles so I can improve my food and wine's skills.
I'm a no professional writer for an Italian online magazine ( that recount stories about food and wine of our country. I recount, in a rubric, the stories of men and women.
Could be interesting to know, in a little interview, the qualified opinion of an important writer as you about food and wine of Italy.
what do you think about this?
Have a nice day

STEFANO on September 17 2013 at 12:46

Thank You Too Fiona.
I'll go on following your good articles so I can improve my food and wine skills.
I'm a no professional writer for a Italian online magazine that recount stories about food and wine of our country. I recount in a rubric the stories of men and women
Could be interesting to know the qualified opinion of an important writer as you

Fiona Beckett on September 12 2013 at 13:02

Thank you Stefano, that's very kind.

Stefano on September 12 2013 at 11:37

Very good article. Excuse me for my bad English, I write from Italy and I'm trying to improve with the language.
A lot of very interesting examples to match the cheeses of a very good dairyman that live in my land. He produces a wonderfool cheese that ages 4 months in a cave 70 meters below the sea level.
I pay my compliments to you, Fiona

Mary on April 21 2013 at 22:40

I love your site and this article. I found your site while searching for food that would go well with Altar (a new organic non-alcohol martini). I am in hopes that you might have some suggestions on appetizers for a party of 10+ people. Their site is located at Any ideas would be well appreciated. Thank you

Alan on November 24 2012 at 17:12

LOVE MMMAC N' CHEESE! Whenever i'm in Dowtown Boston/ Faneuil Hall area and I don't bring mmmac n' cheese home Im in trluboe w/ the wife, kids and Grandma.. we all love it! My faves have to be BBQ/Buffalo Chicken Mac, Cajun Mac (Sausage, peppers, onions, Cajun spices) bacon mac, seafood mac. In addition to the great food, great service, and great value is that they prepare your meal in front of your eyes made to order even the family platters that serve up to ten ready in 10min, I don't know If that's important to other people; it's definitely important to me. Best mac n cheese, best place to eat in Quincy Market. Enjoy!

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