Just as connoisseurs enjoy wine, you can savour cheese by getting to know the
characteristics and nuances of different varieties. You’ll soon be tasting like
Take a close look. What a cheese looks like gives the first clues as to what it
will taste like. Inspect its colour and how even that colour is (the more even,
Body and Texture
Give it a good feel. A master cheese grader will always give a little bit of
cheese a good squeeze between their thumb and forefinger to find out about the body
and texture of a cheese. Body describes how firm a cheese is (Cheddars usually
take some squashing before giving in). Texture changes with maturity, young cheese
tending to be more rubbery while older cheese smoothes out easily when you knead it.
Cheeses are also referred to as ‘open’ when there are cracks or gas holes and ‘closed’
when they are smooth.
Your nose knows. As with all food, aroma plays an important part in flavour and
cheese aroma becomes more apparent at warmer temperatures. While the words to describe
a cheese’s aroma aren’t quite as outlandish as those used to describe wine, you’re
perfectly entitled to use words like ‘creamy’, ‘buttery’, ‘fruity’ or even ‘farmyard’.
At last! You finally get to taste it. Your nose would have given you some clues as
to the flavour of the particular piece of cheese you’re about to eat but only your
mouth can detect the four basic tastes. These are salt, sweet, bitter and sour.
Your taste buds will also detect a cheese’s other flavours - these could be Cheddar
character, butter, acid, fruity, nutty and farmy. Different cheeses can also dry or coat
the mouth and even clean the palate. It’s all part of the adventure of finding the
cheese that’s right for the occasion and for you.
Cheddar comes in a variety of styles:
Extra Mature and
Mild is moderately firm, smooth, closed and usually has a well-rounded flavour. Move up
all the way to Vintage and flavour gets progressively stronger, crystals become more
evident and the texture becomes firmer.
Hungry for more? Apply a little cheese expertise to your next meal by visiting our
recipes section for inspiration.