You already know that a certain dairy delicacy makes a perfect pairing with wine. Wine and cheese are tried and true. It’s as reliable as death and taxes (albeit much more fun). But with THOUSANDS of different kinds of cheese and a ton of tantalizing cheese recipes, we think it’s time to break out of the ordinary. Being that our favorite wine is tequila, we thought about how it might pair with cheese. It might be a stretch to say that wine and tequila go hand in hand, but swapping them in a food duo like tequila and cheese is a welcome treat.
(We should also mention that you don’t need to trade the wine and tequila. You can add the tequila right into the wine with our favorite Tequila Sangria recipes.)
Switch Wine and Tequila for These Cheese Pairings
Leave it to science to be the reason why wine and cheese have historically been the “it” happy hour plate pairing. According to the discipline, balance the fattiness of the delicious dairy with an astringent like the tannins in the wine. When you take a small sip of wine and then bite a hunk of cheese, your mouth craves the balance the two create. So you take another sip. And then another bite. Yum.
So does science back our trend-setting idea of swapping wine and tequila and pairing with cheese? Truthfully, we don’t need it to tell us what tastes good. We need only one sip followed by one bite to prove to us that our plan to try new things was the right one. Only yummier. Learn how to pair tequila and cheese with these pairings recommended by two cheese wizzes we love.
Pass the Venissimo Cheese, Please
We have some friends in high places if you will. Our buddies at Venissimo Cheese in San Diego have put together a flight of pairings that take the (cheese)cake.
To start your tequila cheese journey, Gina Freize, Venissimo’s founder, recommends you begin with the mildest tequila and the mildest queso. Blanco’s clean floral bouquet and the hint of agave and citrus meet their match with a fresh and creamy sheep’s milk cheese like Brebirousse d’Argental. To bring out the peppery notes of the Blanco, try a creamy herbaceous cheese like Fleur du Maquis. This sheep’s milk cheese is rolled in juniper, rosemary, and coriander, accentuating the brightness of the Blanco.
A rested tequila like Azuñia Reposado organic tequila deserves an equally aged cheese such as Spanish Manchego. The cheese of La Mancha is rested for 12 months, resulting in a nuttiness that balances the butterscotch and vanilla of the Reposado. Ossau-Iraty, a Basque sheep’s milk cheese, has a fig and olive bite that plays off of the woody tones of the tequila.
A flavor profile as bold as Añejo needs a fierce and hearty cheese. Pecorino Toscano and Parmigiano-Reggiano are harder cheeses that can stand up to and enhance the buttery finish of the 12-month (plus) aged tequila. The peppery and savory notes of the Pecorino play right into the ultra-premium tequila’s rich chocolate flavor. And the fruity nose of the tequila balances the saltiness of the Parmigiano.
Small Goods with a Really Big Taste
San Diego based purveyor of authentic, American small-batch quality cheeses and provisions, Smallgoods USA, did us a solid by offering their picks for your #TNT happy hour.
Typically, when you think about pairings, a general rule is “what grows together, goes together.” Not so much with tequila. Agave grows in desert-like, dry climates that milking cows typically prefer to avoid. “So instead, we look to pair products based on the complexity of the spirit and its finish. Quite often, complex and concentrated spirits will go hand-in-hand with a complex, concentrated cheese,” says Smallgoods USA founder Jenny Eastwood.
A classic, fresh Hispanic cheese such as Queso Blanco or Queso Fresco would be a perfect match for Azuñia Blanco organic tequila. These cheeses, much like Blanco tequilas, don’t have much age and exhibit clean, bright, mineral flavors with a light milky-ness that help tame younger spirits. These cheeses work well if the tequila is the base for a mixed drink, such as margaritas.
Aged in oak with notes of butterscotch, Azuñia Reposado organic tequila needs a slice of cheese that softens the tequila taste. A rich, aged, sweeter cheese like Jeff’s Select Gouda, or the 18-month, Italian Farmstead style “Estero Gold” from Valley Ford Cheese does the trick nicely. We also loved it with a stronger-tasting, washed stinky rind cheese like Cascade Creamery’s “Celilo,” washed in Bainbridge Douglas Fir Gin.
Time makes all the difference for both cheese and tequila by concentrating on flavors and textures. So, try pairing the aged Azuñia Añejo tequila with cheese that’s equally as rich and complex. The creamy taste of Jasper Hill’s Bayley Hazen Blue and Cabot Creamery’s buttery, Cloth-Bound Cheddar work well. While the blue cheese brought out the caramel, chocolatey finish of the tequila, the flaky and buttery qualities of the cheddar produced a pleasant, long finish, with hints of vanilla and spice.
Have Some Tequila with that Cheese?
We offer a full suite of tequila profiles, including organic Blanco, organic Reposado, Añejo, and Black, our 2-Year Extra-Aged Añejo. Whether you’re going to try new things and plan your tequila and cheese pairing party or fondue party, or are just looking to stock a quality tequila on your home bar, we’ve got you covered. Cheers to eating more cheese. It’s good for you.
You can find Azuñia tequilas at fine restaurants, bars, and retailers across the country.white