Even though only one half of the C+C duo celebrates Christmas (and I’m not that particular half), we both love Cheesemas and the special cheeses that appear in cheese cases this time of year. And lucky for me, Cheese Santa (aka my mom) arrived earlier this week from Seattle with a very special wedge – Beecher’s Yule Käse.
While many of our holiday cheeses are classified as such because they are ready and ripe this time of year, the award-winning Yule Käse was created specifically for the holidays. Beecher’s takes its signature Flagship Reserve, an aged, clothbound cheddar, and finishes it in red wine and local honey. At first glance, you might think the addition of those flavors would result in an overpowering, sugar bomb of a cheese, but Beecher’s uses both judiciously for a sweet and salty – but not over-the-top – holiday treat.
The slightly crumbly paste itself offers caramelly, nutty notes – not unlike an aged gouda – but the background milkiness is pure cheddar. The honey comes through on each bite with its delicate floral quality, but the fruitiness of the red wine can only be detected when you snack on the rind. Luckily, it’s restrained and not overly sweet – unlike the Italian Ubriaco we sampled years ago – so you have the flexibility to pair Yule Käse with several wines. Though my first pairing would be an Washington or Oregon medium-bodied red, like Pinot Noir, I enjoyed the cheese last night with a Pinot Gris from Oregon’s Willamette Valley to much success.
If you don’t live near a Beecher’s, it’s probably too late to order Yule Käse for Christmas, but add it to your New Year’s Eve cheese plate instead. It’s bubbly-friendly, too, and a sweet way to start a new year.
Merry Cheesemas from the C+C ladies! What cheeses are you celebrating with this year?