The vegan cheese category doesn’t usually foster excitement. Although some dairy-free “cheeze” shreds offer a passable melty topping for nachos, the traditional oily, starch-filled cheese alternatives haven’t been something you’d want to pair with a glass of wine.
But recently, forward-thinking food makers are cultivating vegan cheeses with an artisanal eye and time-honored cheese-making techniques. Rather than combining a conglomeration of weird ingredients, new nut-based cheeses contain wholesome foods like cashews, almonds, coconut oil and, notably, enzymes and cultures to foster nuanced flavors. Now you can enjoy nut-milk cheeses that run the gamut from hard and pungent to creamy and sophisticated. Here, find our favorite vegan products (along with suggested wine pairings) that blow traditional vegan cheeses out of the, um, pasture.
Miyoko’s Creamery High Sierra Rustic Alpine
Reminiscent of extra-sharp Vermont Cheddar, this cashew-based semi-hard vegan cheese is filled with umami flavor, thanks to additions of organic chickpea miso, nutritional yeast and cultures. Pair with: a full-bodied red, such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
Kite Hill Soft-Ripened
Aged for two weeks, this nut-milk round is like a super-smooth, creamy Brie—it even features a soft, bloomy rind. It’s made simply with almonds, salt, cultures and enzymes. Pair with: a dry white, such as Chardonnay.
Heidi Ho Black Lava
Smear this USDA Organic spread onto a hunk of baguette for an elegant snack. Expertly crafted with cashews, lemon, hazelnut, live cultures, nutritional yeast, citric acid and black lava salt, this salty-creamy-tangy “cheese” satisfies. Pair with: a light red, such as fruity Pinot Noir.
Treeline Treenut Cheese Chipotle Serrano Pepper
A covetable hot and spicy cashew spread made with sea salt, lemon juice, chipotle pepper flakes, Lactobacillus acidophilus and smoked serrano pepper powder. Pair with: a floral, aromatic white, such as Sauvignon Blanc.