How to taste Cheese

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Academy of Cheese – Structured Approach to Tasting Cheese (SATC)

How to use this Cheese tasting model

We know the temptation to snaffle a delicious piece of cheese as soon as it’s cut is hard to resist. However, at the Academy we teach you the art of tasting cheese in a structured way, giving you a deeper appreciation of the cheese and the ability to confidently describe it using a professional vocabulary. We’ve broken this method down into 3 simple parts below.

  1. Pre-taste Assessment
  2. Taste Assessment
  3. Conclusion

Before you start

Bring the cheese to room temperature.

Did you know that cold temperatures actually suppress flavour? Read More

Have a clean palate

Avoid strongly flavoured food and drink as this will affect your ability to taste simple and complex flavours. Read more

Be prepared to taste

With tasting sheet and pen; clean knives; and neutral biscuits, apples or water to cleanse the palate. Download a tasting sheet

Your Cheese tasting sheet

Complete the first section with any details you already know about the cheese (eg, name, country, milk type, etc).

If you don’t have a copy already, download our Level One Cheese tasting sheet (Structured Approach to Tasting Cheese (SATC)). It contains a complete flavour analysis for Level one students

Pre-taste assessment

Inspect the rind

Your observations at this level should be factual rather than qualitative. For example, ‘inorganic outer’ would apply to a rind covered in wax, plasticoat or cloth. ‘Organic outer’ could be charcoal, leaves or grape must.

You can mark this on your Academy of Cheese tasting sheet

Inspect the interior

Use your sense of touch as well as your eyes to inspect the interior. The texture of the interior, known as the paste, could range from soft like fresh goats curd, to hard like an aged gouda. The consistency could be crystalline like parmesan or crumbly like wensleydale.

Note these observations, along with colour and blueing, on the texture chart

Taste Assessment

Chew the cheese slowly and breathe through your nose.

There are two main stages to tasting which you should try to record. Initially, we pick up simple flavours on the tongue – bitter, sweet, acid, salty and savoury. These give way to more complex flavours, which are registered through the nose and tongue.

At Level 1 we assess your ability to identify the simple flavours but we list the complex flavours on the wheel so that you can begin to expand your vocabulary and palate. The tasting sheets allow you to form benchmark flavour profiles of the cheeses you’ve tasted, as with most things you’ll find this easier with practice.

It’s a good idea to taste with friends too, this helps gauge any flavours you are particularly sensitive as everyone’s palate is different.

Conclusion

Having completed the tasting, you should be able to draw conclusions on quality, in terms of complexity and length of flavour, and the ripeness of mould-ripened cheeses, such as Camembert. You should also be able to place the cheese in its Make, Post-Make class (ie, its initial style of make and what post-make processes it was subjected to).

Happy tasting

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