The Absolute Best Cheese Pairings For Tequila

Tequila is finding its moment in the spotlight, and whether you've been on this train for a while or are just now dipping your toes in, this libation really knows how to liven up a room. While the craft of cocktail-making is an impressive one, another interesting craft is mastering flavor pairings. Many may think of a margarita when tequila comes to mind — and would automatically assume that chips and salsa are the perfect pairing. However, Jaime Salas, Head of Advocacy, Agave at Proximo Spirits, has a brand new, refreshing perspective.

With tequila being his specialty, his knowledge of the spirit goes beyond your standard cocktails. And not only are there plenty of great food pairings out there to go with tequila, but Salas believes many different kinds of cheese complement the beverage on another level. In fact, a tip from the expert himself says that the boldness of the tequila should match the boldness of the cheese in order to prevent one from overpowering the other. Salas even makes the bold statement that there is no such thing as a tequila that doesn't have a proper cheese to match. 

Let's dive a little deeper into which tequilas go with which types of cheeses.

Blanco tequila and Brie

If you like your tequila on the sweeter side, Salas states that blanco tequilas do not go through an aging process, which allows the agave to remain just as potent, revealing its natural flavor and aroma in a prominent way.

If you're wanting to harp on the sweetness from the agave, Salas suggests a milder flavor of cheese, such as Brie or panela. Both have a creamy consistency and are considered softer cheeses, Brie has a buttery flavor that adds a wonderful contrast. This is why brie often pairs deliciously with sweet jam or preserves. Panela's flavor is even more subtle, which balances the sweetness terrifically.

If you're wanting to bring out the pepper and spiced notes in blanco tequila, a cheese with a creamy consistency is key, and if it's rolled in herbs such as rosemary or thyme, that's even better as this savory contrast will hit the spot and balance all angles of flavor.

Reposado tequila and gouda

If you like darker tequila with an oaky flavor, reposado is the one for you. Aged for no less than two months, Salas states that the process to make reposado tequila produces a soft, warming flavor with oak components. The flavor is complex, but not quite as complex as other types that age for longer. This type of tequila is darker in hue and, due to the subtle tones of wood, smokey cheeses such as gouda pair wonderfully without overpowering the tequila. 

On the other hand, a tangier and more robust cheese option, such as a crumbly blue cheese or Gorgonzola, will meet oaky tequila on its level for a flavorful combination. You could even sneak smokey gouda into a melty grilled cheese, or spread blue cheese on crostinis with apricot preserves for some sweet-and-tangy action.

Añejo tequila and Swiss

If you like your tequila on the smoother, more delicate side, añejo tequila is a great option. Salas states that añejo tequilas have a much more complex flavor profile compared to reposado and blanco tequilas, thanks to their longer aging process. Añejo tequila is aged in oak barrels anywhere between one and three years. The types of wood tequila rests and ages in also play a huge role in its flavor.

This type of tequila has notes of vanilla and caramel, Salas explains, which contrasts perfectly with something nutty such as Swiss and Gruyere cheese, both of which are Alpine-style cheeses that tend to be on the nuttier side.

Extra añejo tequila and Annelies

Lastly, and the most complex of all, is extra añejo tequila. Reserva de la Familia Extra Añejo, the world's first extra añejo tequila, is a rare delicacy due to its long aging process and should be sipped in order to fully savor the flavors. Aged for no less than three years, this process produces hints of toasted almonds, vanilla, and cinnamon. Because of this, you could easily pair this type of liquor with a dessert. However, because we're talking cheese, Salas recommends Annelies, which is a nutty cheese that gives off hints of sweetness and creaminess, with flavors of butterscotch and vanilla, while enhancing the flavor of cinnamon in the libation. 

According to The New York Times, while this cheese is aged in Queens, New York, it originates in Switzerland and obtains not only a sweet flavor during aging, but also a grassy one.