I failed to mention just how successfully the Tarentaise paired with the various beers at a recent Cheese and Beer event here. While other cheeses sided better with one or two beers, the Tarentaise came through with all of them. When you find that versatility with a broad range of beers (or with a broad range of wines) you might reflect on the qualities that give the cheese those many fine marriages.
Some cheeses may possess is a higher salt content â€“ that saltiness bringing out the thirst, or flattering the â€œsweetâ€ or fruit in the liquid partner. Though the Tarentaise certainly has its wine favorites, it is not due to an excess of salt.
The acids in cheeses play a role in harmonizing with the acids in the beverages, though the value of this relationship may be less apparent. The Tarentaise happens not be especially acid.
There is also the â€œsizeâ€ of flavors in the cheese and the beer. If they are balanced (as in big cheese pairing more successfully with a big beer) this helps make that successful pairing occur. The Tarentaise is no wall-flower but I donâ€™t consider it to be a strong cheese.
Texture plays its role: both the texture of the cheese and the texture of the beverage. These alpine styles of cheeses often meld well with the effervescent beverages.
Probably the single-most important quality that the Tarentaise offers in its success with all those beers is its own balance. The cheese is not excessively salty or acid, nor is excessively sweet or bitter. It does have its own dose of umami (always a plus) but ultimately it is the balanced flavor that gives the Tarentaise its appeal. As my friend Eric Canut (Mr. Cheese of Spain) exclaimed the first time he tasted this cheese: â€œThis is made in the United States?â€ He thought it was excellent.