Submitted by Enthusiast Member Beth Falk
I’m a firm believer that there’s no right or wrong in food and wine pairings – if you like a combination, then it’s a good one. But there are a few iconic pairs whose reputation for universal appeal is well-deserved, and make it clear, for example, why all those old English gentlemen insisted upon having port and walnuts with their Stilton. The right hard cider/cheese pairing can create the same kind of “aha” moment for a food lover.
Here in Massachusetts, we’re lucky to have our pick of truly great locally produced hard ciders and even more lucky that some of our Massachusetts cheeses pair so well with them. If you’re in search of the right hostess gift for dinner, or a simple hors d’oeuvre for your own event, explore a cheese and cider pairing. Here are some starting points for your journey.
Wunderkind, Bantam Cider, Cambridge, MA
Barrel-Aged Dry, Carr’s Ciderhouse, North Hadley, MA
Dry Baldwin or Pippin, West County Cider, Colrain, MA
While some hard ciders can be very sweet, and redolent of ripe apples, these dry and semi-dry ciders have subtle sweet notes that accent nutty, salty flavors and add some sparkle to counteract the richness of accompanying cheese. Dry ciders pair nicely with:
- Nutty Alpine-style cheeses like Prescott (Robinson Farm, Hardwick, MA) and Herdsman Pless (Nobscot Artisan Cheese, Framingham, MA)
- Delicate tomme-style Pinnacle (Appleton Farms, Ipswich, MA)
- Bloomy rinds and Camembert-styles like Berkshire Bloom (Cricket Creek Farm, Williamstown, MA) and Meg’s Big Sunshine (Ruggles Hill Creamery, Hardwick, MA)
- Fresh lactic cheeses such as the petite Hannahbells (Shy Brothers Farm, Westport, MA)
New England Dry, Headwater Cider, Hawley, MA
Apfel Eis, Still River Winery, Harvard, MA
Full-bodied, sweet ciders and apple ice wine best complement full flavored cheeses. The saltiness and depth of flavor in those cheeses balance the deep fruitiness of the cider (think of the port/Stilton duo for inspiration). Some of the best accompaniments to these two local ciders include:
- Chase Hill Farm Cheddar (Warwick, MA)
- Berkshire Blue (Dalton, MA)
- Washed rind cheeses such as Arpeggio (Robinson Farm, Hardwick, MA) and Tobasi (Cricket Creek Farm, Williamstown, MA)
Ultimately, the right pairing is the one that tastes right to you. Here in Massachusetts, you’ll have a bounty of local options. Enjoy the experiment!