On some level, I am grateful for Aldi’s new collection of cocktail-inspired cheeses (Peach Bellini, Piña Colada, and Espresso Martini, to be exact), because I am a naturally curious person, and these products have set my mind alight with questions. Questions such as: how did this cheese come to exist in the world, and what made Aldi decide that now was the time? What type of customer, exactly, are such cheeses meant to satisfy? Most importantly, how am I supposed to incorporate cocktail-flavored cheese into my life? I seek answers.
Such concerns were already percolating softly in the back of my mind in the weeks between first learning of Aldi’s cocktail-inspired cheese lineup and actually tasting each one for myself. Once I tried them, I unfortunately began to wonder whether they were ideated by some type of artificial intelligence algorithm that trawls Pinterest for culinary ideas to mash together. If two foods are both #nomnom, should they necessarily be wed?
The very notion of cocktail-flavored cheeses is so ridiculous that I was hopeful they’d turn out to be secretly, surprisingly delicious—otherwise, why bother making them a reality? After all, there were dozens of people who needed to sign off on this idea and help bring it to fruition; maybe they, like, me, had been hoping for a Peach Bellini cheese that was luscious like a cheesecake marbled with peach preserves. But any one of them could have pulled the plug once they discovered that the cheese crumbled like Prosecco-soaked chalk upon first bite.
Consider, also, the type of customer who might be curious about a piña colada flavored cheese. Who is this person? Do they wish to serve this cheese while entertaining? If so, they should be warned that they might not have friends anymore by the end of the party. The cheese’s ingredient list doesn’t contain a single coconut or coconut-adjacent product; it tastes more like it’s been flavored with a confusing mixture of pineapple and canned peaches. There were some textured bits in the cheese that had the consistency of shredded coconut, but those weren’t reassuring.
For whatever it’s worth, I found the espresso martini-inspired cheese to be the best of the lot. The peach Bellini and piña colada cheeses crumbled like sandcastles when sliced, whereas the espresso martini had a firmer, creamier texture, akin to improperly dried plaster, earning it higher marks. I did enjoy that this cheese was studded with bits of chocolate-covered espresso beans instead of dubious fruit, but again: did chocolate-covered espresso beans need to intermingle like this? Aren’t they comfortable inhabiting their own corner of the appetizer platter?
Aldi knows it has a fierce fandom: millions of people, myself included, deeply love Aldi products (try the frozen schnitzel and the red bag chicken!). So maybe, in a way, this cheese is some sort of sociological experiment, a test to discover the limits of that love. Do Aldi’s cocktail-flavored cheeses exist to be eaten, or to drive us mad with questions that have no answers?