6 Surprising Nonalcoholic Drinks That Pair Beautifully With Cheese

The grape is still the most popular pairing for cheese, but whiskey and beer are gaining in popularity. Connoisseurs suggest that you don’t limit yourself to the bar when thinking of ways to wash down Comte.

Some of the suggestions ranged from fermented tea to hot chocolate. Your Pinot is clutching pearls. Keep in mind the basic pairing principle, no matter what you are working with. Home cheesemaking instructor and expert Kirstin Jack says: “You either have to match or contrast what is going on in the wine.”

You’ll be surprised by the unorthodox advice of experts. Your next cheese plate will thank you.


Kiri Fisher of the Cheese School in San Francisco and Fisher’s Cheese + Wine, Larkspur, California, believes that if you enjoy whiskey with your cheese, you’ll also like it with tea. She says that hard alcohol can overwhelm cheese because of its high alcohol content. The natural tannins in tea can provide a pleasant astringency similar to that of a barrel-aged whiskey or good red wine. Fisher suggests a stronger tea, such as an aged Oolong or Pu’er – a fermented Chinese tea originating from Yunnan Province. She says that a Pu’er tea is particularly delicious with aged Gouda cheese because the tea helps to balance out the cheese’s “dusty savory butterscotchy qualities.”

Vanessa Chang, a certified cheese professional with the American Cheese Society, suggests that if you love citrus, head to the tea aisle at your local Korean supermarket for Yujacha. She describes it as “less like tea, and more like a loose marmalade that Koreans dilution hot water, and enjoy as a digestif after meals.” She says that fresh chevre cheese or aged goat’s milk cheese pairs well with the citrus notes of yuzu, including lemon, mandarin, and bergamot.


Jackson says that your daily coffee contains tannins, which can “cut out the fat and the richness” of cheese.

Chang’s favorite breakfast is coffee with a Comte piece: “Taking a swig of a warm beverage only helps to [amplify] the browned butter, toasted nut notes of the Cheese.” The sweetness and richness of coffee “works incredibly well” with Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam or Brillat Savarin. If you drink your coffee “black,” then a rich, creamy cheese will act like cream.

Drinking chocolate

Why not combine the two? Chang says that “blue cheese and drinking chocolate is so underrated” because of the contrast between piquant and sweetness. You could make a lighter beverage like an American Hot Chocolate or reduce the milk or water for a more drinking chocolate. She adds that thicker drinking chocolate with a darker color gives a blue cheese, like Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Bay Blue, a lovely, lingering, minty finish. You wouldn’t believe that two products so dank could taste light. But they do.


This childhood favorite is a great cheese to serve if you want something lighter. Jackson suggests adding an herbal touch to the lemonade and reducing the sugar. You’re playing off the herbs in the goat milk, and then the rich flavors are going on, so it’s both matching and contrasted with the lemonade.


We’re not talking about Mountain Dew here (although, if you prefer to have it with your Mt. We won’t be judging you if you choose Tam. Leigh Friend is a pastry chef at Casellula, New York City, and a cheese pairing expert. She says that natural sodas are best, as they have a subtle flavor. She says that sodas go well with cheese due to the carbonation. The little bubbles help to remove the fat on your tongue and refresh your palate. She loves San Pellegrino citrus sodas like Aranciata and Limonata, as well as GuS lower-sugar drinks.

Chicha Morada

A friend suggests chicha Morada, a Peruvian beverage made of purple corn, for a drink that is both colorful and tasty. She says that the deep purple color of this drink is very attractive, and it tastes sweet with a mystery pucker. It is made from purple corn, pineapple, and spices. It’s better to make your own than buy it in a bottle. Friend says that the drink pairs well with bluesy cheeses, salty Gouda, and cheddar. Cabernet Sauvignon, who?

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