4 Great Palate Cleansers when Tasting Cheese

When eating cheese, it is important to periodically cleanse your palate in order to experience the full flavor and texture of the cheese. This is because your taste buds can become overwhelmed and desensitized when exposed to the same flavor for an extended period of time.

Cleansing your palate helps to reset your taste buds and allows you to experience the full range of flavors in the cheese. This can be done in many ways, such as drinking a glass of water, eating a lemon wedge or a piece of unsalted cracker, or having a piece of fruit. Doing this between bites allows you to taste the full flavor of the cheese and truly appreciate its complexity.

Let’s take a little look at the Palate, or skip to the 4 best palate cleansers for cheese

What is a Palate

Put simply, your palate is located at the roof of your mouth and works with the nose and tongue to determine taste. Consuming strong-flavoured foods and drinks can affect a person’s ability to taste, by overwhelming the palate. This is where palate cleansers come in. They are designed to remove any lingering flavours from the mouth, so that the first (or next) cheese may be enjoyed with a fresh perspective.

It is important when tasting cheese to use a neutral, low-taste or tasteless palate cleanser, in order to “wipe the slate clean” and assess new flavours in detail.

Everyone’s taste palate is different and, with practice, can be developed to understand and describe flavours experienced in good cheese.


Learn about the four stages of tasting cheese and how to take tasting notes with this definitive guide to tasting cheese.

Read our Guide to tasting cheese.

4 great palate cleansers when tasting cheese

Lets talk about palate cleansers. A good palate cleanser should have little taste or aftertaste and remove food residue from the tongue and roof of the mouth so your next tasting experience isn’t tainted by other food, allowing your palate to do its job and assess flavour accurately.

Cleanse your palate with water

It doesn’t get more simple than a glass of water. An easy way to wash food out of your mouth and prepare it for new taste sensations. Very useful when consuming a creamy cheese like Brie de Meaux PDO. Fizzy water can be particularly good for rinsing the mouth area and very lightly flavoured citrus water can sharpen the palate.

Palate cleansing with water

Apples are great palate cleansers

The fresh fruit taste of apple works as a great palate cleanser for the taste buds, as the natural acids in the juice refresh and sharpen the palate. Apple is a great addition to a cheese board for this very reason and compliments delicious cheese with a depth of flavour like Blue Stilton PDO.

palate cleansing with apples

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Bread neutralises strong flavours

With its simply starchy texture it is understandable why bread is popular among wine tasters needing to absorb previous flavours and cleanse for the next tasting. Plain white bread has a neutral flavour and assuming you don’t spread anything on it, is a great (and enjoyable) way to cleanse your palate before tasting great cheese like Époisses PDO.

palate cleansing with bread

Neutral biscuits or crackers as palate cleanser

Biscuits or crackers are a natural choice to enjoy with cheese, but if you’re intending to taste cheese with a lots of depth, you need to stay away from strong tasting biscuits or crackers, particularly ones with herbs, fruit, etc. Choose a clean and plain biscuit that has no aftertaste. Great for a hard-cooked cheese like Tête de Moine AOP.

palate cleansing with biscuit

Cheese Palate cleanser recommendations from our Training Partners


My favourite palate cleaners are fresh green apple for soft and lactic cheeses. Eau de vie (grape distilled) for cheese with high content of fat and blue cheeses


Sparkling Water.  It has a remarkable ability to reset the palate. Not only is it remarkably neutral, but it also fades rapidly. Not many kinds of cheese have notes of sparkling water, so it is easy to categorise those residual flavours as water and anything else as cheese. The fizz also helps to revive those taste buds after a long day of tasting.


On aroma, sniff some coffee beans to reset – a trick I learned from parfumiers. On taste, some carts waters biscuits or a crisp apple a works like a charm! 


Apples! Crackers! Water! White wine quite good too but dangerous.


A scrumpy style cider that has been barrel aged, Calvados or & this one works with everything Orval, a trappist beer that is finished dry hopped with Brett yeast and ages, Its the Champagne of the beer world. I have some images and can tell you more about it if you need. 

They have the ability to clean the palate before but also while you still have cheese and even the cracker in your mouth they an lighten the experience turning the cheese into a creamy butter and mellowing some of the stronger flavours. Then afterwards as a reset for the palate to start again. 


Editors note – This post was originally published in April 2019 but has been updated to improve the information

Topic: Tasting Cheese