Use this guide to buy the best grocery-store cheese and master how to use and pair them.
||Buying & Tasting Tips
|Soft, fresh||Chèvre, Fromage Blanc||Salads, spreads, dips (both savory and sweet)
||Look for small production
and local producers for the
|Wine: Crisp, dry or lightly sweet whites, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling; Beer: Light, crisp German style such as Hefeweizen|
|Bloomy, white mold-ripened||Camembert, Humboldt Fog, Brie||Roasted beet salad,
|Should feel tender, but not oozing; should smell of mild mushrooms and not overly of ammonia; rind should still adhere to the interior and not be thick||Wine: Buttery Chardonnay,
rich sparkling wine; Beer: Light pilsner or fruit-flavored ales
|Aged cheddar & semisoft aged cheeses such as Monterey Jack||Tillamook, Grafton Village, Vella
||Ultimate grilled cheese sandwich, macaroni
|Look for those aged a year or more and uncolored; texture should be even and smooth, between sliceable and crumbly,
dry but rich
|Wine: Medium reds like Syrah; BEER: Medium, slightly bitter such as pilsner or amber lager|
|Long-aged English & domestic cheddars||Montgomery’s, Cabot Clothbound, Beecher’s Flagship||Almost always a stand-alone for the cheese plate with figs and other sweet preserves
||The best are aged at least one to two years and made from raw milk; look for a golden, nutty interior that crumbles easily, but tastes buttery and rich; not dry and pasty||Wine: Heavy reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or dry sherry; Beer: Dark, powerful, bitter or mellow such as stouts|
|Alpine-style semihard to hard cheese||Gouda, Appenzeller, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Vermont Shepherd||Use alone on the cheese plate or combine with others in a multitude of dishes calling for aged, hard cheeses||Aged six months to a year or more; texture should be firm and hard but pliable, not crumbly; avoid those
wrapped in plastic for too long
|Wine: Dry whites such as Pinot Gris, Chardonnay or Viognier, or medium-bodied reds such as Syrah, Merlot; Beer: Strong, dark such as bock or dark lager|
|Stinky red or orange washed rind||Limburger, Winnimere, Red Hawk, Munster||Almost always a stand-alone cheese served with simple crackers, rustic bread, fruit and libation; rind is often not eaten||Should be soft, but not totally liquid; should smell pungent and a bit of sulfur, but not make your eyes water||Wine: Crisp, full-bodied whites such as Viognier and Pinot Gris;
Beer: Belgian-style pale ale
|Blue||Stilton, Rogue River Blue, Roquefort||Salads, cheeseburgers and stand-alone as final cheese course||Look for even veins of color from greenish yellow to true blue; texture should be fairly creamy, depending on style; avoid any with liquid in package||
Wine: Heavy, sweet such as port;
||Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano, Romano||Grated on pastas, pizzas, salads and combined with other cheeses for extra flavor; serve superior brands on a cheese plate with apples, pears and nuts||Aged three to five years for maximum flavor; interior should be dark ivory to almost golden, flaky with tiny, crunchy protein crystals; avoid pieces that have been wrapped in plastic for too long||Wine: Many styles—crisp sparkling, dry sherry and medium- to full-bodied reds such as Merlot; Beer: Many types work including medium-bodied amber ales and hoppy ales such as IPAs|
For more information and tips on buying cheese from the grocery store, read the original article, A Guide to Grocery Store Cheese Selection.
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