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Glossary of Cheeses Terms

Acid
A descriptive term for cheese with a pleasant tang and sourish flavor due to a concentration of acid. By contrast, a cheese with a sharp or biting, sour taste indicates an excessive concentration of acid which is a defect.

Acrid
A term used to characterize cheese that is sharp, bitter or irritating in taste or smell.

Aftertaste
The last flavor sensation perceived after tasting a cheese. Pronounced aftertastes usually detract from the pleasure of a cheese.

Aged
Generally describes a cheese that has been cured longer than six months. Aged cheeses are characterized as having more pronounced and fuller, sometimes sharper flavors than medium-aged or current-aged cheeses.

Aging
Often referred to as curing or ripening, aging is the process of holding cheeses in carefully controlled environments to allow the development of microorganisms that usually accentuate the basic cheese flavors. See Curing and Ripening.

American
A descriptive term used to identify the group of American-type cheeses which includes Cheddar, Colby, granular or stirred-curd, and washed or soaked-curd cheeses. Monterey Jack is also included in this group.

Ammoniated or Ammoniacal
A term describing cheese that either smells or tastes of ammonia as a result of being overripe or mishandled (i.e., held at fluctuating temperatures). This condition may afflict the rinds of cheese varieties with white mold (bloomy) rinds, such as Brie, Camembert and Chèvres. A hint of ammonia is not objectionable, but heavy ammoniation is.

Appearance
A term referring to all visual assessments of cheese, from its wrapping, rind, color and texture, to how it looks when handled, broken or cut.

Aroma
A general term for the odor or scent of cheese. Cheese may lack aroma or display aromas, which range from faint to pronounced, depending upon the cheese variety. Aroma is closely allied to flavor, although cheese with a distinct odor may exhibit a mild flavor while cheese lacking odor may present a strong flavor. Aromas may also specify particular tastes or scents, such as fruity, earthy, oily and nutty. The cheese rind may have a different odor than its interior. The aroma of any cheese is most distinctive when the cheese is first cut into.

Aromatic
A descriptive term for cheeses with distinct, pronounced aromas.

Artisan
A term describing cheese made in small batches, often with milk from a limited number of farms. Having unique texture or taste profiles developed in small sealed production or by specialized producers.

Assertive
A term indicating the presence of a pronounced taste or aroma.

Astringent
A term descriptive of a harsh taste with a puckery, almost medicinal quality.

Click here for a complete glossary of cheese terms.


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