Our first source of information about any cheese selection is the cheesemonger. We try to get as much information as we can at purchase time. Cheesemongers are knowledgeable folks and we have met some very passionate sellers.
The next stop is one of two online cheese libraries:
I also use two books on cheese, both written by the team of Max McCalman and David Gibbons. These are:
Mastering Cheese. This book was published in 2009 and is written as an educational course in cheese. The authors explain the history of cheese making since Sumerian times, the evolution of cheese making in different countries, how cheese is made and how different treatments during processing affect the end product. After this preliminary foundation in cheese, the authors go on to showcase different cheeses by country, milk type (goat, sheep, cow), or style of cheese (cheddar, blues, chevre). There is also a good deal of information geared towards a professional who may need to put together a cheese plate or service for a restaurant. Amateurs will appreciate tips on selecting cheese and how to tell when a cheese is at its peak. There is less focus on individual cheeses in this book than the following book, and more emphasis on teaching history and appreciation.
Cheese: A Conoisseurs Guide to the World’s Best. Published in 2005, this book is more a library of cheeses. Each cheese is given a full page description of its origins and process of production, followed by wine pairing recommendations and author ratings. This book’s pictures are beautiful and border on food pornography; they certainly make me desirous of many selections that are unavailable at my cheese shops.