Say Cheese

Gourmet Cheeseplate with WineCheese professionals are smiling when their expertise is needed

Sommeliers may have selected the perfect wine to accompany your meal, but a new crop of them has arisen to lend their expertise to the appetizers. Enter the cheese sommelier.

Enliven your cocktail hour by hiring a cheese pro to teach your guests about cheese. He or she can talk about how cheese is made and host a tasting of various cheese profiles. Be creative and offer cheeses between courses or a cheese selection with dessert.

A sampling of cheeses to suit every palate

According to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Greece, France, Malta, Germany, Poland, and Austria lead the way in international cheese consumption. Introduce your guests to cheeses from these sources to see why cheese is so popular. Here’s a sampling of hard and soft cheeses:

Greece—Feta, kefalotyri (great for making saganaki, fried cheese), kasseri (made from sheep’s milk, akin to mozzarella), manouri (creamy and mild, often used in desserts)

France—Varieties of bleu, brie, and camembert, chevre (goat cheese), comtè (complex gruyére that offers 83 flavors in one bite), langres (a crumbly cheese that goes well with burgundies and champagne), matocq (nutty, usually served with wine), Neufchȃtel (one of France’s oldest cheeses), port salut (semi-soft cheese originated by Trappist monks, serves well with fruits and salads), reblochon (fruity, nutty semi-soft cheese), rochebaron (a bleu cheese, pairs well with crusty bread and fruit), Roquefort (rich, creamy, sheep’s milk bleu cheese, a favorite of Charlemagne), Saint Agur (creamy bleu cheese), vacherin (soft cheese that works well with wines and champagne)

Germany—Allgauer Emmentaler (which we know as Swiss cheese), Bavarian Bergkäse (hard mountain cheese of cow’s milk), Bierkäse (semi-soft cheese, made for dipping into beer), Butterkäse (butter-like taste, pairs well with beer), Edelpilz (German bleu cheese), Klosterkäse (hard, sweet, and fruity)

Poland—Bryndza (a creamy, spreadable cheese often used in desserts), oszczypek (salty and smoky sheep’s milk cheese), podhalanski (creamy semi-hard cheese)

Austria—Butterkäse, Kugelkäse (ball-shaped cheese with caraway, pepper, and paprika and pairs well with Riesling), Mondseer (creamy, semi-hard cheese, used in au gratin dishes), Schloss (mild and tangy)

A cheese professional can help you select the best profiles for your guests. There are at least 700 varieties to choose from, from all around the world.

Don’t forget California cheeses!

In the United States, we consumed 31.5 pounds of cheese per person in 2012 and that number is projected to grow to 36.8 pounds by 2022. After Wisconsin, California is the state that produces the most cheese in the United States. Cheddar and mozzarella are the most popular types of cheeses produced in America.