When I visited Amsterdam for the first time I had a couple of goals, and one of them was to consume a lot of Dutch cheese.
I did not want to simply taste cheeses in Amsterdam, but I also aimed to learn a little about the process of how cheese was made along with the history of cheese in The Netherlands.
I decided to do the famous Cheese Tasting at Reypenaer, an award-winning family owned cheese maturation company that has some of the highest quality cheeses in the world.
I arrived to Reypenaer’s shop shortly before the tasting commenced and waited inside of the store before being led down into the Tasting Room.
Once my group had made our way inside of the room, we were seated and greeted by Ron, the cheese master. Ron told us that we were going to be watching a video that gave us a little background on the company before we got into the cheese tasting.
After watching the video, we were given a little background information about each of the different cheeses we were going to be tasting, and then we were asked to close our eyes and inhale the smells of the cheeses with our noses.
I felt like I was miserably failing at the cheese sniffing and could only identify ‘sweetness’, ‘milk’, and ‘American cheese’. The man sitting next to me was naming all different kinds of smells and I was wondering whether or not my nose was functioning properly.
After the smelling, came the tasting.
We were asked to describe what the different cheeses tasted like by using the cheese tasting guide. The different flavors that we could describe ranged from trees, to nuts, to smoke.
I had difficulty describing the different flavors that I was tasting, similar to how I had difficulty recognizing the different smells. While the man seated next to me was describing all of these variations of flavors in his mouth, the best that I could come up with ‘smoky’, ‘nutty’, and ‘like yogurt’.
We were then informed that good cheese should be paired with good wine, so we sampled various wines with the cheeses (yay!).Ron told us that it was important to always eat the cheese before drinking the wine (maybe he saw some people were getting a little too excited about getting to the wine?).
We learned that:
- Goat cheese pairs well with white wine
- The basic Reypenaer cheese pairs well with red wine.
- Chèvre cheese pairs well with both red wine and whiskey
- The Reypenaer XO pairs well with whiskey
- Gouda cheese pairs well with both white wine and champagne
- Reypenaer VSOP pairs well with port wine
Finally, we had to rate the different cheeses on a scale from 1-10.
My personal favorite was the goat cheese followed in a close second by the chèvre and gouda cheeses. The Reypenaer XO, which was the most aged and most expensive of the cheeses was too strong of a flavor for me.
What I Learned:
- I am absolutely horrible at telling the different cheeses apart and describing them (with the exception of the goat and cow cheeses, those are easy to differentiate between).
- Dutch people really love cheese. Individually, they eat on average 20 kg of cheese per person and they hold the second spot in the world of cheese consumption outside of Italy.
- Wine makes cheese taste better
Who Should Do This Tasting
I personally did not become a cheese connoisseur from this one class, however it was interesting to learn about different cheeses and how they should be paired with different kinds of wines. This is a great activity to participate in if you are interested in learning about the process of cheese maturation and want to experience some of the finest cheeses in the world.
Have you ever done a cheese tasting before?
Reypenaer provided me with a complimentary cheese tasting however as always, all opinions are my own.