Houston Dairymaids Wants You to Eat Your Cheese and Have Your Bubbles, Too
Honey, jam, and nuts; these go-to pairings make for easy cheese partners whether you’re hosting a party or indulging in pre-dinner snacking. But when it comes to imbibing, the choice seems trickier, especially as warmer weather dictates something on the lighter side.
Luckily there are plenty of options that elevate—rather than clash with—flavors of all cheese varieties, and they have one thing in common: bubbles. Expert cheese retailer and Houston Dairymaids founder Lindsey Schechter explained why sparkling wine, beer, and cider make excellent and often unexpectedly good cheese pairings.
When most people think “bubbly,” they think “Champagne.” But sparkling wines represent a variety of budget-friendly options that play well with cheese and bring out the nuances in both. Schechter says, “Champagne often feels like it has to be a big occasion. At Dairymaids, we look for fun, unusual sparklers people may not be familiar with.”
One example includes McPherson Sparkling Wine, a Chenin Blanc that hails from a Texas winemaker in Lubbock. Based on what grows well in a natural Texas environment, the unusual grape varietals in the wine mesh well with complex cheeses, especially soft-ripened goat and uber-buttery, creamy cow’s milk styles.
When it comes to cheese pairing, Schechter encourages her customers to try previously written-off wine styles like Moscato D’Asti and Lambrusco. While some can be overly saccharine, Schechter notes that the right producers “can make a cheese pairing really elegant and refined.” She points out a dry and acidic Lambrusco that lends itself equally well to the meatiness of washed-rind cow’s milk Oma, or the piquant nuttiness of California-based sheep’s milk cheese Pepato.
Of course, wine isn’t for everyone, and bubbles aren’t just for wine lovers; beer and cider make excellent dairy partners, too. For the upcoming summer months, Schechter suggests a “rockstar pairing” with local Saint Arnold Brewing Company’s Raspberry AF sour wheat and store favorite Pure Luck Chevre.
Though slightly harder to find, sparkling ciders can stand up to and enhance the flavor profiles of any cheese style, even the funkiest in the store. A sweet craft cider can balance out a blue cheese’s tendency to be salty and spicy, and Schechter noted that a recent cider pairing with Point Reyes Farm’s Bay Blue accentuated the cheese’s creaminess and vanilla notes.
The cheese and sparkling wine-curious can taste pairings for themselves at the Houston Dairymaids shop, located at 2201 Airline Drive, where cheesemonger-led tastings occur daily.
Lauren is a food writer and editor with a background in cheese and a penchant for pontificating on the joys of eating and drinking.