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Tasting Cheese


class%2525202.23%252520020 Tasting Cheese

This may not sound like much of a concern: how does one taste cheese? However there are some methods that we should mention that can help you better taste cheese. The look of a cheese helps to form our assessment, whether we admit or not. The nose gives an even stronger impression, while the tongue can pick up altogether different sensations, and the texture of a cheese figures as well. As we point out in our Cheese & Wine 101 sessions, what seals the deal in tasting is what you have to wait for – the “finish.” This is when the aromatic esters in the cheese move up the retronasal canal, leaving the final impression and taste of the cheese.

One of the first things to consider is that you not wear strong cologne or other scents. Because cheeses can be very aromatic, to have other aromas competing with those in the cheese can present conflicting assessments. It is also helpful to have a more neutral palate. Avoiding strong foods and beverages before you taste the cheeses is recommended. Cheese judges are advised to avoid drinking coffee before tasting the competition cheeses.

Drinking plenty of water helps to keep your palate more “neutral.” Water is a great universal cleanser. Allowing a little time between tasting cheeses gives your palate a little rest so that it come back to a more neutral state. A little bit of a plain baguette or unflavored cracker can pick up the acids and fats left behind by a cheese.

Another tip we offer that may not be so apparent is to taste the cheese a second time, or just a little later. Remarkable differences can be recognized in the flavor of a cheese if you first “temper” your palate with the first bite, then go back for seconds. This is something that Kevin Zraly suggests you do when tasting wine: you have the first sip then have a second. Whatever residual may have resided in your mouth beforehand is smoothed over by the introductory taste followed by the actual assessing taste.

Wine or beer can serve as a “platform” for tasting cheese. Nuances in the cheese may be highlighted with one of these beverages underneath. This may not be considered fair, since the flavors and aromas may be altered by the commingling characteristics in the beverage. Yet they can also help bring out those subtleties that might otherwise be missed. Any alcoholic beverage should be consumed in moderation, otherwise your assessing skills may suffer.

Max McCalman

Spread the curd!
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Posted by Artisanal Cheese

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