We use a straightforward method for our CheeseChatter evaluations. These are:
  1. Cheese Selections must be New to the Tasters.  Each week’s cheese evaluations start with that week’s shopping trip. We try to get cheese selections that will please all of our tasters and do not establish many criteria before we shop. Our only hard rule is that we evaluate a cheese that is new to most of our tasters.
  2. Ben Evaluating

    Ben Evaluating a Cheese

  3. Cheeses are Evaluated in One Sitting. Although we evaluate 3 cheeses in one sitting, we do our best to review each cheese independently and not compare the cheeses.  Invariably though, when we evaluate multiple cheeses at one sitting, any cheese is put into context with its tasting partners.  We try to give each cheese its fair due.
  4. Classic Baguettes Only.  We keep our bread simple and prefer classic, french-style baguettes for our tasting.  Although we can get great “sour” baguettes–or sourdough loaves–in San Francisco, we use “sweet” loaves for our evaluations.
  5. Evaluations Must be Written During Tasting. For each cheese, our tasters write an evaluation while they taste the cheese.  We first evaluate the cheese on its appearance, aroma, and texture then we taste it.  Tasters are encouraged to use descriptive language in their evaluations and make comparisons as applicable.  Tasters are also asked if they liked the cheese and if they would buy it again.  Our tasters treat their evaluations quite seriously!

2 Responses to “Our Method”

  1. Paul Says:

    I have to say, I think your blog is a really great project.

    Thank you, your children, and your husband for all the work.

    This is impressively accurate, more so than some professional sources. Really I can taste the cheeses from your description and you obviously strive for correctness of data.

    Mentioning this I have seen mistakes in Amazon’s preview of “Mastering Cheese”, for instance contrary to what’s in the book there is no emmental PDO, emmental de savoie is a PGI.

    I could not comment this on your “Information About Cheese” page, “Leave a Comment” does not work for me there.

    Finally the cheese culture mag link is great, very nice descriptions. There again with mistakes (langres is not washed with marc de champagne, just brine, chimay makes many cheeses, etc.), but they are mostly careful it seems. 🙂

    Anyway, thank you.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Paul. I’m glad that you find it useful.

      We originally intended this as a 2010 summer project, but we enjoyed our weekly cheese-centric meals so much that we’ve continued. We have such fun during the whole process–shopping, photographing, reviewing, writing–that it doesn’t feel like “work.”

      I, too, have found discrepancies with some cheese “facts” in books or on sites. The wonderful thing about our digitally connected age is that many of the cheese producers have their own sites and will also answer questions. The best source for (accurate) information is the cheese’s producer.

      Looking forward to another year of good cheese!


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