This post is sponsored by ALDI.

how to throw an ALDI pairings party

The absolute coolest event that I attended at BlogHer Food 2014 was the ALDI Pairings Party.  A sensory expert named Gail Vance Civille hosted the party, which included a presentation and – you guessed it – a lot of delicious food combinations!  Gail has over 50 years of experience in sensory work; for her job, she has tasted everything from coffee to tequila and smelled everything from cat litter to diaper pails.  In her consultations with ALDI, she trained ALDI test kitchen employees.




Gail is pretty famous in her field, traveling the world to share research about sensory perception.  You can read her biography on Wikipedia – she has the coolest job ever!


Gail is actually a SUPERTASTER, someone who has more taste buds than the average person. Pretty neat, huh?


About 40 bloggers attended the ALDI Pairings Party, and I know that people had a blast – a few of the women at my table spontaneously said, “This is so much fun!” in the middle of the tastings.  Because it really was.  How often do you truly savor what you’re eating and consider the detail flavors behind every bite?  Not often.  But it was so interesting to do!  That’s when it hit me – YOU could throw a pairings party, too!  Gail offered up her notes, which I used to create Pairing Guides so you can lead your guests on a tasting journey, too.


Here are the foods that we tasted:


I thought we’d just pop the almonds AND the chocolate in our mouth – but no.  Gail had us taste both food individually first.  In between each tasting, drink some room temperature water.  Fun fact: ice cold water interferes with your ability to truly taste food.  So next time you eat a meal, skip the ice!


Here are Pairing Guides for the four combinations that we tried.  If you throw a pairings party, ask your guest to try each food and ask if they can taste the flavors listed. 

Pairing 1


Pairing 2


Pairing 3


pairing 4


As a bonus pairing, try the milk chocolate with the cheddar cheese – OMG.  It’s AMAZING.  It tastes just like chocolate cheesecake!


A side note: If one of your guests doesn’t want to eat a particular food or drink the alcohol, Gail says that SMELLING it is nearly as effective as actually eating it.  That’s because 90% of your taste experience comes through smell.  It’s true – try eating a piece of cheese while holding your nose – it tastes like you’re noshing on nothing.


What’s your favorite food combination?  I’m torn between milk chocolate + cheddar cheese, Oreo cookies + peanut butter, and cheese + eggs.


This post was sponsored by ALDI.  Thanks for supporting my blog and my family.



  • Betsy May 20, 2014, 3:37 pm

    I went to Aldi for the first time in years last week after reading your posts, I was shocked at how much the store has improved, especially the gluten free and produce sections. It’s definitely my new grocery store. My favorite pairings lately are sliced apples with swiss cheese and bananas with peanut butter.

    • Caitlin May 20, 2014, 3:48 pm

      Glad you liked it!!!

  • Melissa May 20, 2014, 4:49 pm

    Chianti is my favorite!! And I loved the pairing ideas. Thanks!

  • Jasmine May 20, 2014, 5:22 pm

    I love this post. I love the sweet savory combos, so I’m going to try the chocolate/cheddar.

    My favorite combo is eggs and cheese. Seriously. My favorite food!

  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs May 20, 2014, 8:30 pm

    Such a neat concept! It would make for such a fun dinner party!

  • Rebecca May 21, 2014, 12:19 am

    Thanks to Remy from Ratatouille, I occasionally get a tiny obsession with cheese and grapes. I also like eggs and cheese and … um … gee, it’s hard to pick a favorite! Oreos and PB is awesome, but I haven’t had it in forever. For shame.
    I might have to try the chocolate and cheese combo…

  • Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork May 21, 2014, 8:10 am

    That sounds like such a fun time! Chocolate, cheese, and wine?! Heaven!
    I’m a big fan of chocolate and peanut butter, banana and peanut butter, or dairy (ice cream, yogurt) and chocolate. Basically I just love chocolate and peanut butter. 🙂

  • Shelly May 21, 2014, 4:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! I think I’m going to have a pairings party at my wine & book club meeting next week. How fun!

  • Andrea Muzzatti May 21, 2014, 9:16 pm

    It feels like I’m the only person these days who’s not that into nut butters. Peanut butter and anything just doesn’t really do it for me. My favourite combo would have to be cheese and apple, or cheese and grapes. Cheese and anything really…

  • Kath May 22, 2014, 2:42 pm

    Sad that I missed this!! I love me some wine + cheese : )

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