How to taste cheeses? Third step: the smell

How to taste cheeses? Third step: the smell

Third step of our tasting cheese journey. After sight and touch now it’s time to smell. READ ALSO: “How to taste the cheeses: Sight” and “How to taste the cheeses: Touch“. 

The smell is the third sense that we use to better understand the fascinating world of cheese. Keep in mind that the olfactory analysis is the most difficult aspect in cheese tasting. What do you have to do when when you smell cheese? Let’s find out right away.

Use sense of smell to taste cheese

We must be in the right conditions: no colds, no rooms full of smells and no mental fatigue. You have to smell the cheese for a few seconds and try to break down and distinguish the smells. Keep in mind that at the third time you try to smell cheese could fell a sensory fatigue. In this case you have to be trained, you will not be able to catch all the perfumes at the first time. But then you will discover a world that you would not have imagined.

The sense of smell must be used to make a quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Use sense of smell to taste cheese: intensity.

The quantitative aspect serves you only as a descriptive note. The intensity is measured in a scale that goes from the weak to very intense, passing through a little intense, quite intense and intense. From the intensity you can get some information on the nature and processing of cheese. However, in front of a piece of cheese we start the analysis talking about the intensity and then turn on the quality of the smell.

Use sense of smell to taste cheese: qualitative analysis.

If you think that only in the wine you can have fruity or toasted notes you are out of the way. Those who taste the cheeses behave the same way as a sommelier who analyzes a wine. In a cheese you can classify the smells in 6 categories.

Here you can describe a cheese in these terms:

  • Lactic notes: “it has hints of fresh milk, boiled milk, cream, butter or yougurt”
  • Vegetal notes: “on the nose you can hear notes of green grass, mown grass, hay, aromatic herbs, flowers, boiled potatoes, truffles, mushrooms, undergrowth, wet earth”
  • Fruity notes: “on the nose you can taste dried fruit, chestnuts, walnuts, almonds, apricot, citrus fruit etc.”
  • Toasted notes: “hints of bread, brioche, caramel, coffee, tobacco”
  • Animal notes: “notes of wet fur, barn, sweat”
  • Spicy notes: “you can distinguish vanilla, pepper, saffron, ginger etc”

Being able to grasp and distinguish smells and catalog them in the categories is a very complex operation. The advice we can give is to not strain your nose to focus on intensity but close your eyes and clear your mind. These hints are released from the cheese but are imperceptible. So you have to be very focused and initially try to catch only one or two. Then after a little ‘training everything will be easier and more immediate.


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