A more straightforward book title you won’t easily find: Cheese, Beer, Wine, Cider is as no-nonsense as it gets, and indeed, so is the book. If you’ve got questions about pairing cheese with alcohol, writers Steve Jones and Adam Lindsley aim to answer them, offering 75 “perfect pairings,” roughly a third of the book devoted to each drinking category.
To be sure, with 75 types of cheese covered, there’s a very good chance the duo can serve up a pairing for it as long as it’s not Velveeta. Their goal: To open your eyes to the possibilities of new flavor experiences that emerge when you take two disparate foodstuffs and put them together. Fresh chevre and wheat beer? Schlossberger and pinot noir? Certainly, good sir.
While the book’s authors seem to know their stuff backwards and forwards, I have to say that I found the book less useful than I’d hoped. For starters, the pairings are largely hyperspecific. While you can abstract some of the pairing options, it’s difficult to look at a pairing of, say, Twig Farm Fuzzy Wheel and Mad River John Barleycorn Barleywine and have any real sense of what to do with it. I haven’t ever heard of the Vermont-made cheese, and while I can get my hands on a barleywine with ease, I’m not sure Mad River’s expression is available near me. The same goes for many of the cheese selections, which are often (but not always) ultra-local picks that many readers will never see. The book offers a few less specific alternatives for each selection, but these aren’t easy to skim through, which will leave most readers doing a hunt and peck job, randomly flipping through pages until they see something they know — or at least can pronounce.
I’m also not in love with the organization of the book. Each pairing is two pages long, but some of the pairings start on a right-hand page and some start on a left, because of the occasional photo that’s been inserted into the mix. This makes flipping through the book even more difficult because you have to move back and forth randomly as you skim. It’s a little thing, but in a book like this which is presented as a self-described “field guide,” it’s important.
As a broader introduction into how to think about pairing cheese and drinks — and how best to serve cheese — the book is certainly worth its $12 asking price. Readers who need more hand-holding and practical pairing advice, however, may be disappointed.
B / $12 / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]