So many of our favorite cheese traditions take place in winter, when the brisk chill outdoors inspires us to gather around pots of molten fondue or heaping holiday boards with a glass of warming red wine. But your favorite wheels can be just as delicious in summer’s swelter as they are in cold weather, especially when paired with a refreshing boozy beverage. (Want a hands-on lesson in cheese pairing? Sign up for our next virtual wine and cheese tasting!)
Whether you’re planning an outdoor picnic, hosting a socially distant July 4th backyard party, or simply enjoying a happy hour cheese plate, these pairings will help you make the most of the summer season.
Summer Cheese and Beer Pairings
Cracking a cold one on a hot day is one of life’s pure joys, so why not add great cheese into the mix? Try your favorite IPA with a firm, salty, savory cheese like Pecora Nocciola, a sheep’s milk wheel from Landmark Creamery in Wisconsin. A lightly hopped pilsner like Victory Brewing’s Prima Pils does well with English-style cheddars like Minnesota-based Redhead Creamery’s Lucky Linda.
And if (like me) you love nothing better than the crisp, tangy funk of a sour beer, choose a fresh or bloomy goat wheel to pair alongside. The sourness of a brew like Dogfish Head’s Sea Quench will bring out the citrusy notes in a cheese like Firefly Farms’ creamy, supple Merry Goat Round, while its pleasantly dry fizz cleanses the palate before your next bite.
Summer Cheese and Cider Pairings
Start with a scrumpy, a rustic English style of cider often sipped by farmworkers after a long, hot day’s work, paired with a cheddar like Lucky Linda or Cabot Clothbound. Or, if sidra—Spanish cider with a profile ranging from tart and dry to cloudy and funky—is what you’re drinking, try it with a soft goat cheese like Miracle Springs Signal Rock, a creamy blue like Tulip Tree’s Chicory, or a beefy, barnyard-y washed rind like Ruby from Green Dirt Farm.
Because cheese and cider generally play well together, you’re free to experiment. Pick up some of your favorite local farmhouse cider and experiment with a board of varied textures and flavor profiles, like one of our Jasper Hill five-cheese package, and see for yourself how different styles play with a single bottle.
Summer Cheese and Wine Pairings
A crisp, chilled glass of wine is a dreamy summertime drink—but just because you’re reaching for off-dry, light-bodied bottles of rosé or white doesn’t mean you have to leave the cheese behind. (In fact, rosé plays so well with some of our favorite cheeses that we wrote a whole guide to pairing them.)
For a foolproof rosé and cheese pairing, stick with two categories: fresh and soft-ripened goat cheeses and firm, aged wheels made with rich sheep’s milk. Pick up a couple of softies like Yellow Springs Farm’s citrusy, chalky Cloud Nine and ash-topped Valençay style Black Diamond or one of Vermont Shepherd’s aged sheep’s milk and mixed-milk cheeses to play with.
When it comes to white wines, a full-bodied pinot grigio can be paired with just about anything on your board, while pinots with more funk or minerality pair beautifully with a salty, firm cheese like Pecora Nocciola. And if you’re whipping up a batch of sweet, fruity sangria, grab a lush, soft bloomy like Ohio-based My Artisano’s Sharon Creek Brie or an aged sheep’s milk hunk like Green Dirt Farm’s rustic, nutty Prairie Tomme.
And if you'd like us to do the shopping and pairing for you, please join us for our Summer Wine & Cheese Virtual Tasting on Sunday, July 12th! We'll be shipping Suhru Wines and Miracle Springs Farm cheese straight to you doorstep. Orders must be placed by July 6th to guarantee timely arrival.
Have you ever tried a martini with an olive stuffed with mozzarella and roasted pepper? It's good.
Summer Cheese and Cocktail Pairings
While cheese and cocktails are still considered an unconventional pairing by some, there’s no reason they should be kept apart. A well-made cocktail has just as much complexity and possibility as a glass of great wine—not to mention the fact that some of our favorite summer cocktails match beautifully with cheese.
Take the gin and tonic, for instance, with its crisp fizz and notes ranging from herbaceous to slightly sweet to bitter to refreshingly citrusy. With their creamy textures, lemony aromas, and earthy notes, fresh and soft goat cheeses are a natural to pair with fresh and soft goat cheeses, maybe with a spooonful of Meyer lemon marmalade or a dollop of light wildflower honey.
Dry, long-aged cheeses like Landmark’s buttery, grassy Tallgrass Reserve can also be a great pairing with this quintessential summer sip. Bloomy wheels also work well with a G&T, as well as a spritz made with Aperol or other amari, with its harmonious blend of sweet, sour, and bitter.
Personally, I’ve been keeping cool this summer with margaritas on the rocks—a great happy hour option alongside a wedge of buttery, mushroomy Invierno. The paloma, made with lime, tequila, and grapefruit soda, is another excellent pairing with this and other Manchego-style cheeses as well as sharp cheddars like Lively Run’s Lake Effect or fresh chevre. (Use our recipe to make your own and combine the leftover whey with rum and lemon for a cooling wheymonade.)
What are your favorite sips to pair with a beautiful summertime cheese board? Let us know!