Pairing Cheese and Gin

Cheese and Gin with Valley Milkhouse and Rowhouse Spirits

It’s no secret: I love spirits. And I love exploring how to pair spirituous flavors with cheese. Over the weekend, I teamed up with Stefanie Angstadt of Valley Milkhouse Cheese (left) and Dean Brown of Rowhouse Spirits (right) for an “After Hours in the Greenhouse” event at my local urban farm, Greensgrow. What better place to studiously (ahem) sample herbaceous notes?

Here are a few gleanings, if you want to try pairing gin and dairy at home.

Gin Likes Sheep Cheese

Generally, I find that gin works beautifully with firm sheep’s milk cheeses, like Pecorino. You need a fatty cheese to stand up to hard alcohol, and you need a cheese with herbaceous notes that will be buoyed (not destroyed) by juniper-forward gin. Pecorino Ginepro? An ideal gin bunk-mate.

Gin Cocktail? Yes, Please…with Double or Triple Cremes

Soft cheeses, like the four styles we used from Valley Milkhouse on Saturday, need a caress. A caress in the form of bitters and/or bubbly. A French 75 — made with gin, lemon, simple syrup, and Champagne — is a terrific pairing. It’s the pairing I served onThanksgiving with delicate goat cheeses from Vermont Creamery. A smashing combo.

At Saturday’s tasting, we served “pink gin” — gin and bitters — to round out the flavors so the gin didn’t overwhelm the cheese. Orange bitters and Angostura worked well. If you want to play with pink gin at home, pour gin over ice, add a few dashes of bitters and a lemon peel. Rim the glass with the oil from the peel, then drop it into your drink. As the ice melts, the flavors will blend — a little dilution is necessary, in my opinion, for gin to work with delicate dairy.

Gin Pairing at Greensgrow

Explore a Variety of Gins, from Floral to Herbaceous

A great pairing should be balanced, so look for flavors that will accentuate your cheese. Rowhouse Gin is juniper-forward with a lingering taste of chamomile. Lovely, complex. That’s why I wanted to pair it with the soft, grassy notes of Valley Milkhouse Cheeses. Angstadt uses a combination of sheep and cow’s milk from pasture-raised animals. Perfect. Her cheeses are all named after wildflowers, a good flavor tip-off.

When I pair Pecorino with gin, I ramp up to a vigorous juniper-y gin, like Rogue Spruce Gin. Other gins I love to pair cheese with: Saint George (terroir gin), Barr Hill (honey gin)

Add Honey as a Flavor Bridge

Honey is a great bridge for uniting dairy and spirits — especially when pairing with salty cheeses. Try herbaceous honeys, like thyme, lavender, or rosemary. You can purchase these or make your own gorgeous infusions. Add some roasted nuts, like almonds or hazelnuts tossed into a skillet with some olive oil and sea salt. Voila, you have an incredible cheese and spirits board!

Valley Milkhouse Witchgrass

Witchgrass, from Valley Milkhouse Cheese

Greensgrow After Hours

Longing for some pairing play? Don’t worry. We have more Greensgrow After Hours cheese events in the works. Check the Greensgrow events page (and mine!) for updates. You can also read more about how to pair cheese in my little ol’ book (link up top). Drop me a line if you discover a glorious cheese and gin pairing. I would love to hear from you. 

 

 

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Comments
6 Responses to “Pairing Cheese and Gin”
  1. Emily says:

    Such a great time had by all!!

  2. Renata says:

    Hi Madame Fromage,
    I wish I could have attended this feast. It looks perfect.
    Moreover my favorite spirit is gin. I posted few months ago a gin strawberry basil cocktail. I paired it with Grana Padano. This post was inspired by your new book’s journey. When it will be published?
    Best wishes,
    Renata

  3. Wynne Wert says:

    Madame,

    I find your blog enjoyable and helpful. Since I am fond of gin and cheese, the pairings were of special interest.

    Bluecoat American Dry Gin is produced in Pennsylvania, in Bensalem, close to Philadelphia. I finished my first bottle and I plan to purchase the new Bluecoat Barrell Finished Gin, even though it looks like it will not be in the lovely blue bottle as the first effort. (www.philadelphiadistilling.com, in case you are curious.) I saw a WHYY Friday Arts’ feature on them last year that is where I met Madame Fromage.

    I will be in Barcelona and in Schauffhausen (Switzerland) this spring. Might you recommend any cheeses not to be missed?

    Thank you and carry on.
    Wynne

    • tdarlington says:

      Hi Wynne, thanks for the note. Sounds like I will want to ask you about cheeses not to be missed in Barcelona and Switzerland! Hope you have a great trip. In Spain, look for interesting sheep’s milk cheeses — Idiazabal is one of my favorites (smoked over Balsa wood, lovely). In Switzerland, you might look for Nusskase, one of my new obsessions — the curds are washed in walnut oil, so the cheese tastes faintly of walnuts. My recommendation when traveling: look for unusual cheeses at farmers’ markets or cheese shops. Find what’s local, or ask for what’s local — people are always excited to show off regional specialties.

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  1. […] Pair it: Hidden Springs Creamery sheep ricotta with lavender honey For more information on pairing cheese and gin check this guide by Madame Fromage […]



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