Vodka and Cheese Pairing


For this pairing, I decided to go where pairings are not necessarily all too easy – liquor. I went with Zoladkowa Gorzka; a polish brand of vodka that means “bitter vodka for the stomach”. This pairing went with the original herbed recipe. It couldn’t be more different than it’s name as it is sweet and easy to drink as a bittersweet aperitif.

Two cheeses I chose for this pairing are Canadian cheeses: Mountain Oak Wild Nettle Gouda style, Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar . The third cheese is a close cousin to cheddar called Red Leicester.

Wild Nettle is a Gouda style cheese that is an ivory paste with dark green flecks. It tastes sweetly of butter with a pronounced savouriness that is reminiscent of roasted green vegetables and slight mineral notes. On the palate it is firm smooth pastiness. The finish is long and waxy while a bitterness builds without being unpleasant. The umami and veg nature of the cheese brightens and intensifies the fruitiness of the vodka.

Avonlea clothbound cheddar is grounded in old world style from the Orkney Isles of Scotland. A very firm cheese that is buttery yellow with a smooth oily texture with some tyrosine crystals. It’s nose is slightly lactic with the light scent of heavy cream. Medium salty while being of a slightly sour flavour with an engaging pungent intensity reminiscent of warm milk and leeks. The spice from the vodka fades the cheese to the background while pronouncing the tyrosine crystals.

Red Leicester is a old world British cheddar style cheese that is pumpkin orange in colour with small eyes and tyrosine crystals. The cheese is dry and crumbly when cold. At temperature it becomes a wonderfully moist paste. A medium nose that reminds of the milk and butter being blended into mashed potatoes with a hint of mushroom. It’s taste pairs sour and umami in fine balance just like it’s nose. Red Leicester culminates in a long smooth finish that is chalky like all good British cheddars. Despite expectations of a good pairing with the potato notes of the cheese and a vodka; neither the cheese nor the vodka enhanced the good qualities of the other.

Guy Hartmann

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