A vertical cheese tasting is a sampling of the same kind of cheese at different ages. It’s a delicious way to experience the subtle ways the seasons can affect a cheese’s flavor. It will also help you become acquainted with the many particular flavors that a specific cheese has to offer and help you learn how to talk about them, too.
To set up a vertical tasting, you just need to choose one specific cheese and buy a wedge at a few different ages. Ideally, it should be the same cheese from the same creamery, so you can see how dramatic or subtle the differences are, but since this is not always possible a good alternative is the same cheese. For example, get yourself a Comté at 6 months, 12 months, and 16 months. Some of these wedges will be made with summer milk when the cows are at pasture and eating a fresh diet of herbs, grass, and flowers, while the other will be made with winter milk when the cows are eating dry hay.
Here’s how to set up a vertical tasting for all your friends:
- Choose your cheese, and buy several different ages. Give everyone just under an ounce of each cheese, so they have plenty to taste.
- Gather your friends for a round-table style discussion. We recommend keeping it to fewer than ten people.
- Print out some facts about the cheese so you can learn all about it together. You’ll also want to provide each guest with paper and a pencil so they can take notes.
- Serve something bubbly, like sparkling wine or seltzer, to cleanse your palate between bites.
- Begin with the youngest cheese, and move towards the oldest.
- Once the tasting is over, be sure to wrap any leftovers in Formaticum to keep them fresh.
If you host a vertical cheese tasting at home, post a picture on Instagram and tag us! We’d love to see how it goes.