Cheese Tasting – How to Bring Cheese to Room Temperature

Cold cheese can be tasteless. Why?

If you regularly eat good cheese you will be well aware that eating cheese straight out of the fridge is a bad idea, it can be dull & flavourless, dry & crumbly or have a rubbery texture. If you’ve ever wondered why then read on.

What temperature should cheese be served at?

Cheese needs to be brought up to room temperature.
Approximately 20–22 °C (68–72 °F)

How long before I can serve this cheese?

You may be having guests over at the weekend and plan to serve a cheese course, you’ve decided what cheeses to have on your cheese board, and made the purchase from a local cheesemonger. Don’t leave the cheese in the fridge till the last moment, read on

Why eat cheese at room temperature?

We can taste flavours in cheese better when it’s near our own body temperature. And, whilst every cheese is different, they all contain fat which holds a lot of the unique flavour. When cheese is cold the fat molecules contract, so its much harder to determine flavour. Once brought up to room temperature, approximately 20–22 °C (68–72 °F), these molecules relax, releasing strong, and flavourful aromas that cannot be released when the cheese is cold.

Simultaneously, the texture of the cheese begins to change, becoming softer and and more creamy. The warm aromas allow the mouth and nose to do their job, whilst the softer texture means the tastebuds in the mouth have access to the full range of flavour.


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.

How to bring cheese to room temperature

Cut the right amount of cheese

Only take the amount you need out of the fridge. Taking a cheese in and out of the fridge will spoil it quickly. If you’re planning on pre-cutting your cheese into handy, grab-able portions, do so just before serving, as these can dry out quite quickly.

cutting cheese

Place your cheese on a plate or platter

Take the cheese out of its wrapping and place on a clean slate or platter away from moisture. Cover the cheese to prevent it from drying out (it doesn’t need to be air tight).

Leave cheese for at least 1 hour

When you’ve gone to the trouble and expense of buying fine cheese, it is a shame not to eat it at its glorious best. As a rule of thumb, we recommend taking your cheese out of the fridge for at least an hour before serving. This does, however, vary upon the type of cheese you have. Ripe and runny bries for example would appreciate a longer warm-up: even as long as two hours, whilst harder cheddars benefit from an hour out of the fridge. The exception to this rule is fresh cheeses where 30 minutes should be sufficient. Mozzarella, ricotta and young goats cheese, for example, fall into this category.

What can I do whilst my cheese is warming up?

Probably the hardest part is doing nothing, because the temptation to nibble can be too much! In this case, however, patience is a virtue and you really will taste the difference. To avoid temptation, use the time to:

  • check you’ve got some palate cleansers so the cheese can be fully appreciated
  • prepare your accompaniments: we’ve got some recommendations here that will take your cheeseboard to the next level
  • chill your drinks if necessary
  • get your cheese knives out

How long can I leave cheese at room temperature?

Well again, this depends on the type of cheese you have, whether it’s raw or pasteurised and also on the temperature of the room. Theoretically, you can leave pasteurised cheese out of the fridge for days and it won’t make you poorly. The other thing it won’t do, however, is look its best: cracks may appear, pastes will go rubbery and hard cheeses will look greasy. Therefore we say that typically, you can leave cheese out of the fridge for anything between four and eight hours for it still be safe to eat and look its appetising best.

If you follow these guidelines, you’re in safe territory:.

Soft cheeses, like brie or Époisses PDO fall into the lower end of that scale. Their high moisture content, which encourages bacterial growth, means that you shouldn’t leave these unrefrigerated for more than four hours. Hard cheeses, such as cheddar and Parmigiana Reggiano, have a a much lower moisture content and consequently, are safe for up to eight hours.

Waxed truckles meanwhile, which haven’t been opened, can be without refrigeration for up to 24 hours, as the wax keeps the cheese cooler for longer.

Read our cheese tasting guide to find out more

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

Topic: Tasting Cheese