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How to taste aged cheeses

How to taste aged cheeses


A few simple, but fundamental tips for storing your cheese and preserving its quality.

To correctly taste cheese, you must begin by looking at it or, better yet, observing it from the outside and then the inside to obtain the most important esthetic characteristics. Then, after having brought the cheese up to room temperature by leaving it out of the fridge, squeeze it between your fingertips to measure the consistence and age. Smell the cheese to measure its intensity, persistency and what type of aromas it has. Lastly, place a small piece in your mouth to understand the intensity, persistency, type and balance of its flavors.

In specific, you must first examine the rind to see if it is broken in any spot allowing for mold to enter, or significant markings, which are signs of humidity. Look at the color to determine how long it has been aged. Also the shape and size must be observed to make sure they conform to the official guidelines for that specific cheese.
It is very important to observe a slice of the cheese while tasting. Check to see if the cheese is uniform in color. The holes or “eyes” of the cheese should always be present, even if almost unnoticeable. They should be uniformly spread across the slice, the same size and not have to many large cavities. This allows us to know whether or not the bacteria worked uniformly across the cheese.

The olfactory analysis calls for the aged cheese to be broken into two. Bring the broken edge up to your nostrils and smell 2 or 3 times maximum. In this phase, you should be evaluating the intensity and, above all, the persistence and quality of the aromas. In an aged cheese, for example, you should not smell strong dairy aromas, but rather notes of dried fruit, toast, animal, mushroom and broth. In order to really pick up on all the aromas, one must train oneself by smelling cheese often.

Next, you must focus on the flavors: sweet, salty, acidic and bitter. The flavors should be balanced, without one flavor dominating or covering the others. An aged cheese can be spicy or piquant, but never bitter. Test the intensity and persistence of the aromas released during chewing. These aromas, for example, can be different than those you smelled previously.

The last step is the evaluation of the structure of the cheese, which is less important when it comes to aged cheeses. The cheese should melt in your mouth fairly easily and not remain on your tongue for too long. After 1 minute, your mouth should be clean and ready to taste again.