Tasting cheeses means analyzing a small casket of flavors and aromas simply referring to our senses: sight, touch, smell and taste. In the article “How to taste cheeses: 8 rules to follow” we gave you some tips to a proper tasting. We told about the importance of visual impact.With the sight we can already understand many things, but we need to know what to observe.
USE SIGHT TO TASTE CHEESE
With the sight we can understand a lot of things. First of all we can define shape, size, volume and colors. To taste cheeses, sight must therefore focus on the external part and then on the heart.
From the analysis of the surface we can understand: nature and maturation of the cheese, processing method and state of health.
A mozzarella will have a very thin wrap on the outside called skin, a caciocavallo or a fresh pecorino cheese will have a thinner layer called peel and a seasoned pecorino will have a larger outer surface called crust. So already observing the outer surface we can understand the degree of seasoning.
Then we must understand if the surface is treated or not. The first is the color. It is not a universal rule, but very often the color of a treated surface is very different from that of the heart. The treated surface that covers the cheese is shiny or otherwise translucent and silky to the touch. Usually there are no molds.
You can understand the processing method by the color. For example, a pecorino with red skin will be seasoned with a mixture of oil and tomato paste, a gray pecorino cheese is seasoned under ashes, when it has black, diffuse and slimy spots it will be seasoned with oil deposit.
Finally we have to understand the state of healt of cheese. Mold is not a problem, on the contrary. It forms more spontaneously in raw milk cheeses that arise from natural processing. Mold is the best shield against pest attacks. To understand the state of health of the cheese must, however, verify that the crust does not present splits or erosions because they could be caused by the action of mites.
The things to be observed in the inside of the cheese are the nail and the color. From this analysis we can further understand the degree of seasoning and in some cases if it is a sheep’s, a goat’s or a vaccine’s cheese.
The nail is nothing but the sub-layer. If the nail is thick and has a chromatic separation from the heart, it means that the cheese is well seasoned. If its size and color difference diminishes, cheese is less aged.
Then we have to analyse the intensity of the colour.
For example, a Pecorino or Caprino cheese that has a yellowish dough, probably have a percentage of cow’s milk. In fact, goats and sheep, unlike cows, do not assimilate the carotenoids of hay and herbs, with the result that the cheese will be white. From the brilliance we can understand, once again, something about maturing. More bright is colour and less it will be seasoned. Vice versa, if it will be less brilliant means that is more seasoned.