Cheese should be tasted at a temperature range of between 16º and 18º. Therefore it is best to take it out of the fridge a 30 minutes prior to tasting.
Furthermore, it should be tasted in small portions, keeping it for a while in the mouth to appreciate all the different flavours they contain.
We can talk about the tasting as an exercise in perception and analysis of the characteristics of the cheese. The appearance, texture, aroma, flavour, all captured through the senses are all to be judged.
- Appearance: Using the sense of sight we perceive certain characteristics in cheese both in the appearance of the exterior (rind, texture, shape, colour, roughness) and interior (hollows, colour of the cheese, etc)
- Texture: We can see if there are elements of rupture or separation in the mass of the cheese. We can sometimes find drops or droplets of water or fat; openings and granules. The presence of crystals is always synonymous with the cheese having a long maturity. Following cutting the cheese, if we gently touch the surface we can detect the moisture and roughness can tell us at a glance if we have a young or matured cheese. Biting into the cheese we can also appreciate its strength, elasticity, solubility and moisture.
- Taste and Aroma: The aroma is defined as a set of feelings that we detect just before tasting. We perceive the basic tastes through the tongue getting hints of sweet, salty, sour and bitter. The aftertaste is both a smell-taste sensation that differs from the sensations perceived when the cheese is still in the mouth and may include aromas, flavors and other oral sensations.
Finally we can perceive a result of fulfilling persistence from all the previous sensations once the cheese has swallowed.
Cheeses which has been less cured (and semi-tender) tend to be appreciated more in the morning. During lunch there may be a cheese board where all varieties can be included and in the evening a mature cheese is best suited.
The pairing of cheese and wine is a classic. Mainly with red wine, but cheeses that have been less cured can also be combined with white and rose wines.
Beer can also be a good choice because, unlike wine, the yeast can enhance the flavour of the cheese, with its earthy hues, its floral and fruity touches, etc..
The pairing of cheese has spread to all cultures adapting to each of them and it is not surprising to see cheese together with other beverages such as coffee, milk, fruit juice or even whiskey, aniseed or apple liquors.Nuts (pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, ...) and dried fruit (raisins, dried figs, dates, ...) combine with all kinds of cheeses.
Bread has always been a faithful companion to cheese, and adding honey, jam or anchovies can even achieve an interesting contrast of flavours.The secret is to complement and harmonize the different flavours from the food and beverage and accompanying cheeses to prevent them from overlapping.