Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Review

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Vocabulary for Cheese Tasters

Borrowed from The Nibble for educational purposes.

Need A Word (Or Three) To Describe Your Cheese?

Here are descriptive terms for cheese. Different cheeses have specific characteristics. For example:
  • A fresh goat cheese can be milk white, floral or herbaceous, moist and soft.
  • A Roquefort can be ivory, sweet, salty, pungent, mildly acidic, complex, creamy and crumbly.
  • A Brie can be ivory, buttery, mushroomy, elastic and melting.
  • An aged Cheddar is deep yellow, crumbly, moist, sharp and peppery.
 Positive Characteristics/DescriptorsDefects


hay, pale hay, rich hay; white, milk white, chalky white, ivory; yellow, yellow gold, deep yellow, orange

bicolore, bleached (for rindless cheeeses) brown, dull, faded, mottled

Aroma & Flavor

acid(1), barnyardy, bold, buttery, clean, earthy, flat, floral, fragrant, fruity (and particular fruits, e.g. blackberry in Robuchon and plum in Comté), gamey, goaty, hay, herbaceous, intense, mild, mushroomy, nutty, pasture, peppery, persistent, pungent, milky, salty, satiny, sharp, sheepy, silky, straw, sweet, tart, typical, well balanced

Aroma: ammoniated(2), sour, spoiled
Flavor: astringent(3), bitter(4), biting, chemical(5), fermented, flat, mealy, metallic, oversalty, pungent, putrid, rancid, , soapy, sour, sulfurous, unbalanced, weak


coarse, compact, crumbly, elastic, fibrous, firm, flaky, grainy(6), hard, moist, rubbery, soft, smooth, sticky

mealy, oily, pasty, waxy


buttery, chewy, creamy, finely granular, melting, soft, sticky

chalky, grainy, gummy, sandy

(1) A pleasant tang and sourish flavor due to a concentration of acid.
(2) Ammoniated or ammoniacal designates the heavy smell or taste of ammonia as a result of being overripe or mishandled (i.e., held at fluctuating temperatures). This condition can afflict bloomy rinds, such as Brie, Camembert and some chèvres. A hint of ammonia is not objectionable, but heavy ammoniation is.
(3) A harsh taste with a puckery, almost medicinal quality.
(4) An unpleasant, biting flavor, usually a bitter aftertaste, sometimes associated with variations in manufacturing and curing or aging procedures in high-moisture content cheese.
(5) An aroma or flavor taint which usually indicates improper manufacturing or contamination with foreign materials.
(6) Grainy is a characteristic of grating cheeses; it’s desirable in those cheeses and a flaw in others.

No comments:

Post a Comment