A Seductive Amaro & Cheese Pairing Guide

what is amaro
Left to right: Cynar, Aperol, Strega, Montenegro, Cardamaro

We love pairing cheese with cocktails, but what about trendy spirits like amaro? These Italian liqueurs offer a wide range of botanical notes and flavor profiles undergirded with a refreshing, balancing bitterness—and they’re delicious to pair with cheese. Want to learn more about pairing cheese and beverages? Grab a ticket to one of our upcoming virtual pairing sessions

Amaro is an Italian herbal liqueur that is often consumed as an after-dinner digestif. Its bittersweet flavor and botanical notes pair excellently with cheese. And with an alcohol content between 16% and 40% depending on the variety, you won’t get too tipsy as you taste. 

We dove into the world of cheese and amaro pairings at a recent event with chef Jenny Dorsey and mixologist Matt Dorsey. Give our detailed, tested, and tried-and-true pairing recommendations a try at home. They’re arranged from lighter-bodied to heavier-bodied, so start at the top if you’re planning your own cheese and amaro tasting.

 

cheese and amaro pairing

Pairing 1: Aperol + Amanteigado

What is so fabulous about this pairing is that the raw sheep milk thistle rennet from Portugal has a natural fruity, artichoke flavor imparted by the thistle, and buttery base from the fatty sheep milk cheese.  These characteristics pair beautifully with an aperol straight or aperol spritz (2 oz prosecco to 1.25 oz aperol, and splash of soda water).  Aperol is made from the herbaceous gentian root, rhubarb, and cinchona tree bark.

how to pair italian liqueur with cheese

Pairing 2: Suze (or Strega) + Chevre d'Argental

Suze is a french liqueur made from the gentian root, and Strega is an Italian liqueur made of a combination of 70 herbs (including juniper, mint and fennel). Suze tastes very vegetal with pomelo citrus notes and gets its yellow hue from the gentian root, while the Strega is more coniferous and herbaceous and gets its yellow hue from saffron.   

The Chevre d'Argental is a uniquely milky, lactic, mushroom-like, and vegetal (asparagus) goat milk bloomy rind that leans more on the earthy than mineral side of the goat cheese flavor spectrum. This flavor profile makes this cheese very compatible with either type of liqueur.

how to pair cynar with cheese

Pairing 3: CynarEwephoria

Cynar is made of 13 herbs and plants, predominantly artichoke.  Nevertheless it does not have an artichoke flavor and leads with a light caramel and herbaceous flavor, finishing with bitter espresso. This is why it is a great match for the dense, crystalline Ewephoria sheep milk gouda, which has often been described as tasting like candy and caramelized walnuts.

how to pair amaro and cheese

Pairing 4: Amaro MontenegroOma

Amaro Montenegro is a secret blend of 40 herbs and plants, including vanilla, orange peels, and eucalyptus. Flavors of rose petals, dried orange peel, and cherry come through. Oma, a washed rind cow milk cheese from Jasper Hill Farm, is meaty and funky, with a rind reminiscent of peanuts. The herbaceous, floral, bitter and sour fruit notes are able to enhance vegetal and fruity characteristics in the cheese, making this a fascinating match.

how to pair cardamaro and cheese

Pairing 5: CardamaroGruyere Cheese Caramel

Cardamaro has a base of moscato wine that is infused with herbs, cardoon, and Roman thistle. Flavors of ginger, artichoke, and a touch of sweetness come through on the palate. Cheese caramel (a caramel infused with gruyere cheese) pairs nicely with the natural sweet and vegetal qualities of this lighter-bodied amaro. 

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    Jessica Sennett is the founder and inventor of Cheese Grotto. Her whole life is cheese - seriously.

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