The Cheese Making Process

Smelly Cheese Shop

The Hunter Valley is ripe with vineyards that go on to produce world famous grapes, but there is a lot more to discover throughout the region such as wine’s best friend; cheese. Established in 2002, the Smelly Cheese Shop, you can taste your way through the finest local and imported cheeses on offer at the retail stores. The fromagerie allows you to view the cheese making process through masterclasses as well as sampling some of their best sellers. With three retail stores in Australia, the expansion of the Smelly Cheese Shop shows that the appreciation for gourmet cheese is growingly annually. But that’s not all the shop offers, a various assortment of condiments and jams, cured meats and olives are on sale for the perfect accompaniment to whichever cheese you desire. So how does the art of cheesemaking work? Here is the process for three of the most popular cheeses that we know and love.

Brie

Produced from whole cows’ milk, rennet is added and then heated to 37 degrees to form curds. The cheese is then cast into a mould, salted and then aged for a minimum of 4 weeks. It originates from France, from the region of the same name and was quite popular with kings and queens for its mild, smooth texture. Brie can complement a variety of food items due to its sweet and creamy flavour such as honey, nuts or figs. A Pinot Noir will counteract the buttery cheese with a fruity acidity.

Gorgonzola

With only 29 dairies worldwide who are certified to produce this cheese, you could say that the process of making Gorgonzola is an art form. Originating in the Lombardy and Piedmont region of Italy, the cheese begins as unpasteurised cows’ milk that is then heated and to that a fungus called penicillium is used to mould or ripen the cheese. As the cheese matures over a period of 55 days, a salty, sharp and veiny blue cheese is formed that can be made to be either creamy or hard. Gorgonzola is a fine accompaniment to fresh fruits, quince jam, and walnuts. For wine, a Merlot is the best pairing option as it brings a sweetness to the acidic cheese.

Cheddar

Originating in England, this cheese is named after the process by which it is made. Cheddaring involves stacking blocks of cheese together until all the moisture is pressed out of the cheese. What is left is a sweet, sometimes sharp and tangy cheddar that has a hard consistency and can be matured for up to 24 months. Apples and chutneys are the most commonly served food items served with cheddar as well as grapes or a toasted rye bread. The wine that is most suited to cheddar cheese is a Cabernet Sauvignon, a full heart red wine is needed for that perfect balance to counteract the sharpness of cheddar.

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