The first tip is simple, if you forget everything I mentioned in this post but just remember this one tip, you are further than 98.79% of the population in terms of cheese tasting knowledge. Fine, I made up the percentage but you get what I mean.
Here we go:
Cheeses should be consumed in increasing order of flavor… from the gentlest flavors to the more robust.
It is wise to begin with a fresh cheese and then go on to stronger flavors and harder textures. You should always finish with blue cheeses.
Blues should be consumed last for these 2 reasons:
- It offers a nice note of freshness at the end of a tasting
- It contains Penicillium, a fungus that is good for your digestion
Tip #1: Use Cheese Color as a Guide
If no indication has been given and you are unsure which cheese has the strongest or lightest flavor then a tasting order may be hard to implement.
In this case, you should use color as a guide, tasting the paler cheeses first and moving on to the darker ones.
Look at the The Rinds
Thick, hard rinds are readily identifiable from more delicate younger cheeses: start with these fresher cheeses.
If several cheeses have similar rinds, focus on their color and opt for paler rinds before moving on to darker rinds.
Also read: Can I Eat the Rind on Cheese?
What to Do If Rinds Have the Same Thickness and Color
For soft rinds and soft cheeses:
Look at the color of their interior: cheeses with a lighter-colored interior are generally younger than others.
In terms of consistency, taste the firmer cheeses first; these will be younger and often have a heart – a drier, crumbly center – which is not necessarily a downside.
For harder and pressed cheeses:
Go for the softer ones first.
The more white crystals there are, the more mature the cheese.
Tip #2: Use Your Sense of Smell
Following your nose is another brilliant way to enhance your cheese tasting experience.
This tip, however, is not recommended for first-time cheese taster.
Begin with the creamy lactic aromas, and move on to those with earthier mushroom notes, before going for the tangy, fruity, animal, and spiced cheeses on the platter.
Also read: How to ‘Taste’ Cheese Through the Nose
The Order of Cheese Tasting
This is the order in which you should taste:
- Fresh Cheeses
- Stringy Cheeses
- Runny Cheeses
- Soft Cheeses with Natural Rinds
- Soft Cheeses with Bloomy Rinds
- Cooked Pressed Cheeses
- Uncooked Pressed Cheeses
- Flavored Cheeses
- Soft Cheeses with Washed Rinds
- Blue-veined cheeses
Tip #3: Write it Down
Journaling your tasting notes and impressions is an excellent way to help you remember what you liked and didn’t like.
Whether you are a novice or seasoned pro, keeping a cheese journal will help you pinpoint those unique and interesting flavors at a deeper level.
Note: It is important that you list down the variety and maker so you can recall better in the future.
It may feel silly at first, but keeping a journal will help you appreciate cheese better and make your cheese-tasting experience a tad more fun!
If you are fully committed, I would recommend that you invest in a quality journal.
This is the one I’m currently using:
Another good option is the one I have used in the past:
Tip 101: Cheese tasting can be quite messy at times so it is wise that you invest in a leather cover and quality paper journal so it can better protect your written notes.
I am sure you can agree that a beautiful journal will inspire you to jot down and write more.
If you come across a cheese selection with spices on the rind and/or in the interior (cumin, chiles, herbs, etc.) eat them last.
This type of cheese can dominate the palate and overwhelm any subsequent taste.
And remember, leave the blue cheese for the end. 🙂
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