Of course a cheese’s personality is largely dependent on the taste, texture, aroma, and ingredients that go into it, but there are other parts of a cheese’s story that contribute to its character. In this blog series, Natalie investigates the distinct personality traits of some of the most unique cheeses out there.
These striking marbled cheeses are not your average Colby Jack. Pressed beer and wine cheeses have bold alcohol-infused veins that can give a flavorful and colorful kick to classic cheeses.
Red Windsor and other wine cheeses are another variety of strange meaty-looking cheeses (remember Époisses?). Cheeses like Red Windsor and Cahill’s Wine Cheese are soaked in varieties of red wine—often port, elderberry wine, brandy, or a combination of those. The result is a sweet and fruity cheese with pink veins that can range from intense to subtle. With the cheeses pictured, the marbling effect is created by a careful layering of the alcohol with the cheese curds. (Alternatively, sometimes alcohol is blended into cheese or used as a coating, which results in a less dramatic look.)
The British Red Windsor can also look demure, like a block of pink marble. Pair it with red wine for an elegant snack.
Cahill’s Irish Porter Cheese is made with Irish cheddar and porter beer. Any dark, full-bodied beer can be considered a porter (often simply referred to as “Guinness” in Ireland). It comes in a barrel-shaped, wax-coated wheel, with the chocolatey brown veins on the inside. This original Irish cheese was first made in the 1980’s when one of the Cahill women decided to combine two of Ireland’s best tastes: cheddar and dark beer.
A pint of beer is added to the Irish cheese right after the curds have formed and the whey has been drained. Cheesemakers at Cahill’s carefully hand-mix the porter into the young cheddar curds to create a smooth marbled wheel. The addition of the beer at this early stage keeps it from homogenizing with the cheese bits, and gives the cheese this distinct marbled effect. The way this cheese is pressed together with the beer, it almost looks like a hodgepodge rock wall—with beer as the mortar. Yum!
As the cheese ages, the alcohol mostly evaporates, leaving behind a bittersweet, somewhat hoppy flavor. The full-bodied, toasty porter also gives the cheese a smoky taste which is sometimes likened to dark chocolate or caramel.
Not surprisingly, the Porter Cheese pairs well with dark beers and ales. The cheese experts at Cahill’s also suggest grating the cheese into mashed potatoes for a truly Irish dish.
These cheeses can be enjoyed by bacchanals, beer geeks, and non-drinkers alike. And, for a festive alternative, the colorful Sage Derby is also sure to stand out on any cheese plate.
Be sure to read my next blog post on the personality of very moldy cheeses.