Uncooked and essentially unripened cheese. These have the shortest of shelf lives. Some examples are cream cheese cottage cheese, ricotta, mascarpone, and some goat cheeses.
Cheeses of this style are created by immersing the curds in hot water and molding these curds into various shapes and sizes, achieving a desired consistency. Prime examples include mozzarella and provolone.
Soft Ripened and Bloomy Rind
Theses cheeses ripen from the outside in and sport a white bloom of a rind. The most popular varieties include Brie and Camembert. Other examples include Gratte Paille and Pierre Robert.
During the ripening process the cheeses are rubbed or washed with brine (salt water), wine, brandy or other alcohol that gives the cheese a distinctive flavor and aroma. Examples include Livarot, Epoisse, and Pont l’Eveque.
Inoculated with Penicillium Roqueforti in the vat, these cheeses are then pierced to allow oxygen to penetrate within the cheese to develop even blue veining throughout. This process results in the familiar blue/green veining, and that distinctive bold flavor. Examples include Roquefort, Stilton, Bayley Hazen, and Bleu des Basques.
Uncooked and Pressed
These curds have not been heated but are pressed to expel the whey and create a particular texture. Examples are English Cheddar, Morbier, Tomme de Savoie, and Manchego.
Cooked and Pressed
These curds are heated to a specific temperature before pressing to achieve a smoother, creamier texture and flavor. Examples are Gouda, Cantal, Gruyere, Reggiano Parmesan, Appenzeller, and Emmental.
Actually made from real cheese, along with emulsifiers, gums, salts, oils, flavors and stabilizers. It is a consistent product with a long shelf life and a very smooth texture. Velveeta would be the most obvious example.
General Cheese/Wine Pairings
Riesling, Chardonnay, Spanish Whites.
Full Reds, Pinot Noir, Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Port.
Champagne, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Aged Rhone Reds, Bordeaux.
Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Barolo, Beaujolais, Chianti.
Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Dark Beer, Ale.
Gruyere/Comte style cheeses
Light Fruity Reds, Cote du Rhone, Beaujolais, Sweet Riesling, Sweet Muscat.
Dry Whites, Sauvignon Blanc, White Bordeaux, Fruity Reds.
Bordeaux, Burgundy, Sauvignon Blanc.
Port Salut/St. Paulin style cheeses
Fume Blanc, Vouvray, Big Reds, Cotes du Rhone, Beer, Ale, Chianti
Rotation and Storage
First, pay attention to the airflow in your walk-in cooler or refrigerator. Where are the blowers located? All cryovac and plastic wrapped items (ie - tightly packaged items) should go closest to the direct airflow, on the upper shelves. Cheese that is wrapped in paper or packaged in cardboard boxes should go on the lower shelves, safely away from direct airflow. This will help keep these cheeses from drying out, and thus avoid the rinds of these cheeses from cracking.
Second, remember to turn your cheeses (right side up- to- upside down and vice versa) on a regular basis. Quite simply, it’s a gravity thing. By turning your cheeses on a regular basis, you will ensure that the moisture contained within the cheese does not concentrate at one side and is instead evenly distributed throughout the cheese.
By monitoring these two issues you will consistently have hearty and consistently merchandisable cheeses.
Handling and Cleaning
Remember that cheese is a living, breathing product. Specialty cheeses in particular will not always look “picture perfect.” This is what makes them so different from commodity cheeses. What you give up in terms of uniformity, you more than make back in having a cheese that offers superior and unique flavor. Moderate changes in temperature and the natural movement of water within a specialty cheese can help lead to great variations from wheel to wheel.
Quite often, specialty cheeses will arrive in need of attention and care from the retailer before it is to be sold at the counter. At the retail level, make sure to open the box and inspect your cheese. If there happens to be some mold that is not a natural part of the cheese, lightly brush it off with your hand or a small brush. Smell the cheese - are there any off odors? Inspect the rind for cracking, or excessive moisture. If a cheese is wrapped in plastic, often moisture will collect at the base of the cheese. Open and drain off any and all liquid, dry it with a paper towel, and let the product sit for 15 minutes or so. Then re-wrap the cheese in the appropriate packaging material until it is ready to be sold at your counter.
Consider the above points when you receive and merchandise your specialty cheese. Do not hesitate to ask your Zuercher & Co. representative any and all questions that you might have about a particular item you receive from us. We are always here to help and want you to be able to market your cheeses in the best condition possible.