Feed your mind, and then your stomach. Learn more about common descriptive words for cheese and wine to improve your snacking and impress your friends.

Cheese Terms


In the cheese world, “artisanal” specifically refers to cheese made with traditional methods, by hand, in small batches.


A cheese is ripe when it has reached its optimum flavor and is ready to be consumed. A ripe cheese is also said to be “à point”, a French term meaning literally, “at the peak.” Every cheese ripens slightly differently and personal preference determines the desired ripeness.


Cheeses that can be identified as butter generally have high fat contents and higher moisture, giving them their characteristically smooth and butter-like texture.


Some cheeses are naturally infused with smells reminiscent of the farm they came from.


Soft and semi-soft cheeses, particularly members of the Brie/ Camembert family, are often described as having a mushroomy flavor and aroma. This normally intensifies as the cheese ripens and ages


The outside layer of cheese. Cheese rinds range from the inedible to the delicious. Traditionally younger cheeses have an edible rind and more aged cheeses have a tougher unpleasant rind.

Washed Rind Cheeses

Some of the strongest smelling and tasting cheeses have had their rinds washed during the curing process. This process keeps the cheese moist and supple. Cheeses can be washed with salt water, beer, wine or even brandy which of course affects the final flavor.


Cheeses typically aged 3 months to 2 years, with a moisture content of 40-50%. Examples are aged Gouda and Gruyere.


Cheeses with a 50-75% moisture content, such as young goudas, Butterkase, Morbier and Tommes.


A soft, bloomy rind cheese to which cream with a minimum butterfat content of 74% has been added.


Vegetarian cheeses are made with non-animal derived rennet.

Wine Terms


A wine that retains some residual sugar. These wines are usually dessert wines and have a wide range of sweetness varying from about 3–28 grams of sugar per 5 oz glass depending on the style.


A wine with a small amount of residual sugar, anywhere from 2–3 grams of residual sugar per 5 oz pour. These are usually white wines, but you may find the occasional off-dry red.


A wine with a range of residual sugar between 0 and 1 gram per 5 oz pour. Most wines fall into this category, and can be paired with a wide variety of foods.


A word used to describe tasting or aroma notes of a wine that can’t be described in terms of fruit, herbs, or spices. Some grapes - chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, albariño and chenin blanc to name a few - have been found to show more of a mineral character.


The terroir of a wine describes its growing, production, and aging conditions, including things like climate, topography, and soil.


Tannins are compounds that naturally occur in grape skins, seeds, and stems and create a drying sensation in the mouth.

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