Food & Drink

Cooking from the Bar Cart: Champagne-Pimento Cheese

Champagne wishes and pimento cheese dreams come true in this sparkling take on the iconic cheese spread

Photo: Katherine Cobbs / Blueline Creative Group

This winning spread brings together elements of two Southern favorites—pimento cheese and Kentucky beer cheese. Alcohol and cheese play together nicely, whether in the Bluegrass staple or the beloved wine-and-cheese-board combo, and here, a bit of bubbly (Champagne, cava, or prosecco) brings its own distinctive taste to the party. The earthy, yeasty flavors of Champagne when sipped pair beautifully with sharp cheeses like cheddar and nutty ones like gouda, so it makes sense to add the effervescent wine right into the cheesy mix. Like the beer in beer cheese, the alcohol, acidity, and carbonation cut through the richness and help disperse all the flavors on the palate. 

This recipe has the welcome texture of pimento cheese and beer cheese’s pleasing zing and spice. For ideal texture, blend everything with a hand mixer instead of whirling in a food processor. By grating the cheeses by hand on a grater’s coarse holes and using sliced (instead of diced) pimentos, the ingredients hold their shape during the short beating required to blend. I used Champagne-infused English cheddar for its added fruitiness, but any sharp cheddar will do. Since there is more than a splash of liquid in this mix, using cream cheese in place of the usual mayo keeps the spread sturdy. Serve this with crackers, veggies, and some pickled things and wash it all down with more bubbly!

See other recipes in our Cooking from the Bar Cart series.


  • Champagne-Pimento Cheese (Yield: about 3 cups)

    • 1 (8-oz.) block Champagne cheddar, sharp white cheddar, or gouda

    • 1 (8-oz.) block sharp yellow cheddar

    • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature

    • 1 tbsp. grated shallot

    • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced

    • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard

    • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

    • ½ to ¾ tsp. cayenne, or to taste

    • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    • 3 to 4 oz. Champagne or sparkling white wine (see Note)

    • 1 (4-oz.) jar sliced pimentos, drained


  1. Shred the block cheeses on the coarse holes of a box grater. Place the shredded cheeses, cream cheese, shallot, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, and black pepper in a mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until the cream cheese is uniformly mixed with the other cheeses.

  2. Add the Champagne or sparkling wine and beat just until incorporated.

  3. Add the pimentos and mix about 10 seconds more to evenly distribute but maintain the coarse texture of the mixture. 

  4. Transfer the mixture to a sealed container and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight to let the flavors come together and allow the cheese to firm up. Transfer to a dish to serve.

  5. Note: You can roll the chilled mixture into a ball with slightly damp hands. Use less Champagne or sparkling wine if you want to form the cheese into a ball; use more if serving in a dish.

Katherine Cobbs is a cookbook author and editor. Her most recent books are Pantry CocktailsTequila & Tacos, and Cookies & Cocktails published by Simon & Schuster. She also developed recipes for Garden & Gun’s The Southerner’s Cookbook – Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories.