Cheese Tasting: An Exploration of Flavors
Cheese, in all its different forms and varieties, is a beloved food around the world. Be it a classic cheddar on a burger or a gooey brie on a charcuterie board, cheese adds a depth of flavor and texture to any dish. In this post, we are going to explore the different tastes of cheese and how to best appreciate them.
Understanding the Taste of Cheese
Cheese can be classified into 5 main categories based on their taste – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. Though some cheeses may have a combination of these flavors, they typically fall into one of the categories.
Sweet cheese may sound like an oxymoron, but there are several varieties that are known for their sweetness. Cheeses like gorgonzola dolce and mascarpone have a creamy sweetness that pairs well with fruits like berries and pears.
Salty cheese, like feta or halloumi, has a briny taste that can be a bit overpowering if not balanced out with other flavors. These types of cheeses are perfect for salads or dishes with lots of fresh herbs.
The tangy, acidic taste of sour cheese like goat cheese or sharp cheddar can add a brightness to any dish. These types of cheeses pair well with tart fruits like apples or grapes.
Bitter cheese, like blue cheese or gouda, has a distinctive taste that can be polarizing for some. However, when used in moderation, these cheeses can add a complex depth of flavor to any dish. They are perfect for pairing with bold meats like bacon or beef.
Umami, a savory taste that can be described as “meaty” or “earthy,” is found in cheeses like parmesan and gruyere. These types of cheeses are perfect for adding depth of flavor to savory dishes like soups or stews.
Pairing Cheese with Food and Drink
Now that we know the different flavors of cheese and how to identify them, let’s talk about how to pair them. When pairing cheese with food or drink, the goal is usually to balance the flavors. Here are some suggestions:
Sweet Cheese Pairing
Sweet cheeses pair well with acidic fruits like raspberries and tart apples. They also go well with honey or balsamic glaze. For a refreshing pairing, try a sweet cheese with a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc.
Salty Cheese Pairing
Salty cheese pairs best with fresh herbs like mint or basil. They also work well with sweet figs or dates. For a refreshing pairing, try a salty cheese with a crisp, dry rosé.
Sour Cheese Pairing
Sour cheese pairs well with tart fruits like green apples or grapes. They also go well with tangy sauces like tomato or vinegar-based dressings. For a refreshing pairing, try a sour cheese with a light-bodied white wine like Pinot Grigio.
Bitter Cheese Pairing
Bitter cheese pairs well with bold flavors like bacon or smoked meats. They also go well with sweet fruits like apricots or fig jam. For a refreshing pairing, try a bitter cheese with a full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon.
Umami Cheese Pairing
Umami cheese pairs well with savory dishes like meatballs or mushroom risotto. They also go well with salty snacks like olives or pretzels. For a refreshing pairing, try an umami cheese with a full-bodied beer like an IPA.
Cheese is a versatile food that can be used to add flavor and depth to any dish. By understanding the different tastes of cheese and how to pair them, you’ll be able to elevate your meals to new heights. Whether you’re a fan of sweet or savory, there’s a cheese out there for everyone. So go ahead and explore the world of cheese – your taste buds will thank you.