Chow Town

Leave the wine at home, some sodas pair perfectly with cheeses

Fourme d’Ambert and Hotlips Pear Soda from Portland, Ore.
Fourme d’Ambert and Hotlips Pear Soda from Portland, Ore. Special to The Star

Cheese and soda, it’s a thing. If its not, then from this day forth I declare that cheese and soda pop pairing is a thing.

If the perfect marriage is possible with wine and beer, then there must be some perfection to be found in the soda realm. Don’t laugh! Just wait, soon everyone will be clambering to get a seat at the next artisanal cheese and soda class at their local cheese shop.

Yes some people will scoff. They will say, “Soda is just too sweet,” or “The lack of complexity in soda makes it a poor partner for cheese.” Or maybe my favorite: “When someone washes down a great cheese with a Coke or a Pepsi this should trigger an automatic audit by the government of their mental faculties.”

Now it is true that soda can be too sweet. Most sodas are not what you would call complex. And Coke and Pepsi is not what I am proposing as good pairings for cheese.

As for being too sweet, one most always be conscious of this issue when pairing cheese with soda. But in the cheese and wine world, often a little sweetness pairs nicely with the contrasting salty cheese. Also, the effect of the carbonation on your tongue tames the sweetness. Carbonation is perceived as a sour taste, offsetting the sweet in the soda.

As for the complexity issue, remember that people often find that when a straightforward wine and a more complex cheese are paired the results are much more exciting then if both were very complex.

Coke and Pepsi have their place, but I think we need to dig a little deeper into the carbonated beverage cooler to find drinks that pair well with good cheese. The sheer variety of small batch sodas that are not necessarily made by the big beverage producers has blossomed in recent years. Old brands have been brought back from extinction and local and regional specialties have found wider appeal. Just ask Mass Street Soda.

So, all that being said, and with summer right around the corner, its time for three cheese and soda pairings that you will love.

Try Robiola Bosina with Dry Sparkling Juniper Berry soda. Robiola Bosina is a soft ripened cheese made with cow and ewe’s milk. It has a thin, white rind soft creamy texture. It is very mild with flavors of sweet milk and mushrooms. It is easy to overpower the subtle flavors with a full flavored drink. But the slightly sweet juniper soda’s piney and herbal characteristics really meld well with the cheese.

Try Green Dirt Farm’s Prairie Tomme with Cheerwine. Prairie Tomme is made in Weston, Mo., with sheep’s milk from their small heard. The mountain style cheese is nutty, buttery and a little tangy. It reminds me in many ways of some of the French Basque sheep’s cheeses on the market.

In keeping with that theme, Cheerwine is the prefect pairing. This cherry soda, hailing from North Carolina, takes the place of the cherry jam that is traditionally served with sheep’s cheese from the Basque country. Missouri and North Carolina naturally a great combo right.

Try Fourme d’Ambert with Hotlips Pear soda. Fourme d’Ambert is a traditional cow’s milk blue cheese from the Auvergne region of France. Ambert is flavorful yet not as piquant as other French blues like Roquefort and its cousin Bleu d’Auvegne. This is one of those blues that is at home in a salad, on a stake or just on a plate.

The classic combo of pears and blue cheese make Hotlips Pear soda perfect for the cheese. They take pear juice and lightly carbonate the juice. The soda is actually about 92 percent juice with no sugar added. With the cheese coated on the tongue the soda makes a delicious soup perfectly mixed in the mouth.

So don’t let anyone tell you wine and beer are the only place to be when it comes to cheese. Why not do a little experimenting with soda.

Lincoln Broadbooks loves cheese. He is one of the first cheesemongers in the United States and Canada to become an American Cheese Society-certified cheese professional. He is the manager and buyer for the Better Cheddar in Prairie Village. You can find him on Twitter @LincolnBbooks and on Instagram @lincycheese.

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