Congratulations to Amber of Billericay, the winner of our January competition.
Keep visiting us for more competitions in the future!
We look at the science behind cheesy flavours and the art of eating cheese.
Like wine, cheese is best enjoyed at the correct temperature. Fresh cheeses are better cold but many cheeses release more of their flavours if taken out of the fridge a couple of hours before serving and keeping at room temperature. Careful of those bloomy cheeses – put them too close to the fire and they may just run away!
Smell it first!
Smell is one of the key components of taste. It is the first step in tasting a cheese, although the overall flavour of the cheese may differ from its initial smell. Smelling cheese first will also alert you to any problems.
On the tongue
The tongue is divided into different ‘zones’. We taste sweet things on the tip of or tongues, saltiness and sourness around the sides and bitterness at the back. The way your taste buds respond to these four flavours may determine your likes and dislikes. Fresh, mild cheeses tend to be tasted on the tip of the tongue while mature and surface-ripened cheeses use a lot of tastebuds.
Eating the cheese
Mouthfeel is an important component of a good cheese. I like the crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth texture of a lot of blue cheeses. Luscious! When we chew, it releases more of the aroma of the cheese, this time up the back of our nasal passage. Good cheeses tend to have a long-lasting taste with a good finish.
Putting together a good cheese board
Have a good variety of cheeses so people can try something new. For example, a blue cheese, a hard cheese, one soft, one fresh and one made with ewes’ or goats’ milk. Here are some of our suggestions of cheese selections.
Also use a mixture of shapes to make the board visually appealing – round, trianglular, you can even get square cheeses. A good cheese board is essential – there’s nothing appealing about a stained white plastic board, for example. You could use slate, wood or granite.
Provide both a knife and a fork so people can pull the rinds off easily if they aren’t inclined to eat them.
Butter is very good with strong blue cheeses. Dried fruits and fresh fruits make good accompaniments – take look at the cheese’s tasting notes to find out if it goes particularly well with something. Fresh herbs are excellent stirred through fresh, creamy cheeses. Honey can go well with some goats cheeses. How about nuts? Walnuts go well with blue, hazelnuts with cheddars.
There are also loads of delicious preserves and chutneys around, which are particularly good with hard, mature cheeses. There is also a wide selection of breads, biscuits and crackers. Why not try some Lincolnshire Plumbread with a strong cheddar like Blackbomber? Or some rye crackers or bread with a distinctive blue like Blacksticks Blue? Crusty bread is a classic with bloomy cheeses and we sell that in our Lincoln shop now, too.
If you’re holding a cheese and wine evening, these are the flavour combinations we would recommend:
Fresh cheeses – Dry whites
White cheeses – Medium-dry whites
Rind-washed cheeses – Pinot, Grenache, champagne, riesling
Blue cheeses – Port, full-bodied reds
Hard cheeses – Sherry, vintage reds, muscat
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