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Hard cider and cheese are a naturally great pairing. When combined, they form a flavor powerhouse of complex earthy aromas and flavors. We recently chatted with Sascha Inram of Murray's Cheese in New York City to find out what makes cider such a good choice for serving alongside your next cheese plate.

Cider can be used to heighten characteristics that it shares with certain cheeses, or the pairing can serve to highlight the subtle contrasts between the two. As Sascha says:

Rich cheeses love any carbonation present in cider—ithelps cut through the creaminess of the cheese, and refresh your palate for the next bite. Slicing through butterfat and salt, cider's acidity elevates the nuanced and complex flavors in cheese.

Recommended Pairings

20110302ciderwestcounty.jpgTry washed rind cheeses with Basque ciders. This combination is a funk-lovers dream. Basque ciders such as Sarasola Sagardoa or Isastegi Sagardo Naturala are barrel-aged with naturally occurring yeast for a tart, earthy characteristic that works wonderfully with the complex, pungent rind character of the cheese.

For aged sheep's milk cheeses, choose tannic ciders to cut through the protein and butterfat. Look for cider blends that include apple varieties like Reine de Pomme or Ashemead's Kernal. Examples include West County Cider's aptly named Reine de Pomme cider. Though Sascha says many aged sheep's milk cheeses like Ossau-Iraty Vieille, made in the French Pyrenees, or Major Farms Vermont Shepherd, marry well across the cider spectrum.

Sascha also recommends pairing "creamy, mushroomy Le Chatelain Camembert with cider as a nod to the cider-rich culture of Normandy, France."

Finally, if you're feeling blue, pick a sweeter cider or an ice cider. It will make a delightful salty-sweet pairing with blue cheeses like Dancing Cow Lindy Hop from Vermont or Fourme d'Ambert.

Don't worry too much about pairings; keep it simple and experiment a little. Try pairing locally made cheese and cider, or look out for limited-release offerings and pair seasonally.

Of course, cider and cheese are such great partners that simply grabbing a bottle of your favorite cider and a wedge of your favorite cheese may prove to be the best pairing of them all!

About the author: Christopher Lehault is a New Jersey-based cider journalist, craft beer documentarian, and home brewer. Follow his cider adventures on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

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