Taste Test: Gourmet String Cheese

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Mozzarella cheese that neatly pulls apart, individually wrapped and ready to go... that's one fun, nutritious and delicious snack.

String cheese has been popping up in kids' lunch boxes for years.

But now, this simple snack comes in some more complex flavors, from Polly-O: cracked black pepper, tomato basil and sweet barbecue.

Often times, where there's cheese, there's wine, said Sal Maiolatesi, owner of Maiolatesi Wine Cellars in Lackawanna County.

"You can really go across the board with some very pungent cheeses that pair up with some sweeter wines, or you can go just the opposite end of the spectrum and do something like a dry red," said Maiolatesi. "It's fun to experiment. That's the best part about it."

Since Maiolatesi's tasting room was the site of this week's taste test, Sal paired three wines with our three "gourmet" string cheeses.

The overwhelming favorite: tomato basil.

Virginia Maiolatesi of Scott Township said, "The tomato basil reminded me of bruschetta."

Sarah Wright from Scott Township agreed. "I felt it stood out from the other cheese, you really tasted the basil in it. And the sangiovese paired really well with it."

Joselle Monarchi, who was visiting from San Francisco said, "I liked the cheeses. My favorite was the tomato basil and the black pepper was second runner-up."

The least favorite among our testers? The sweet barbecue.

"I didn't care for the barbecue. It was just too mild," said Virginia Maiolatesi.

So what did the wine maker, himself think?

"Believe it or not, the black pepper. I seem to be the odd ball," said Sal Maiolatesi. "It was the strongest flavor, and the one that can hold up to red wines the best."

Calories range from 60 to 80 per stick, depending on the flavor.

Polly-O string cheese is $3.99 a package. There are 12 sticks in a package. We found the new flavors at Target.