Italian Wine For Dummies
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If you get to know your quality cheeses, eating it can be a wonderful change of pace. Add some good cheese to your pantry for parties, snacking, and pairing with wine. When buying cheese, remember that there’s a big difference between aged cheese and old cheese. Old cheese looks fatigued and discolored, may have a cracked rind, and signs of overdryness.

Here’s a look at some of the more common types of gourmet cheeses available on the market today.

A plate with six different kinds of cheese.
Credit: Corbis-Digital Stock
  • Brie: This soft, creamy cheese is generally mild tasting.

  • Camembert: A creamy cheese not unlike Brie. When ripe, it oozes luxuriously. (Really! In the world of cheese, oozing is a good thing.)

  • Cheddar: The flavor of this semifirm cheese ranges from rich and nutty to extremely sharp.

  • Fontina Val d’Aosta: Italian cow’s milk cheese, semifirm, subtle, nutty, and rich.

  • Goat cheese (chèvre in France): Goat cheese ranges from mild and tart when young to sharp and crumbly when aged.

  • Gorgonzola: Gorgonzola is rich and creamy, yet pleasantly pungent. Creamier than Roquefort.

  • Gruyère: Sort of a more gutsy version of Swiss cheese. Faint nuttiness. The classic fondue cheese.

  • Mascarpone: An Italian cow’s milk cheese that has the consistency of clotted cream.

  • Monterey Jack: A California cow’s milk cheese in the cheddar family that’s semisoft, smooth, and very mild when young, and sharper when aged.

  • Mozzarella: Familiar to all from pizza and lasagna fame. It’s also great in salads or layered with sliced tomatoes and basil.

  • Pecorino Romano (or Romano): A sheep’s milk Italian cheese, Pecorino Romano is soft and mild when young, with a touch of tartness. Quite tart when older, mostly grated over pasta.

  • Roquefort: Made from ewe’s milk and aged in the famous caves of Roquefort, France. Roquefort is among the most intense of all blue-veined cheeses. Has a creamy texture at its best.

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