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Bread and Cheese

cheese lover's vocabulary

Chances are, you've been eating a piece of cheese before and noticed something about the flavor or texture that was unique, but when you wanted to describe it to a friend you weren't sure what it was called. There's a great many ways to describe those things, but here are a few of the more common terms we use in the cheese world to help guide you on your cheese eating journey! Try using some of these the next time you come into the cheese counter at Partake!


Brittle: Hard in texture but breaks easily.

Buttery: High in fat content, tasting similar to butter.

Chalky: Dry and fine in mouthfeel.

Chewy: Dense, tough, takes time to chew.

Close: Well packed, seamless, and smooth.

Creamy: Thick, smooth, and buttery in flavor.

Crumbly: Breaks apart easily into small, solid pieces.

Crystalline: Contains small butterfat crystals in the paste.

Dense: Compacted and thick.

Dry: Low moisture content.

Firm: Dense, well packed, stable. 

Flaky: Breaks apart easily into thin pieces.

Grainy: Gritty, textured, containing small bumps.

Oily: Visible/tastable oil.

Open: Not fully bonded, doesn’t mold well, contains openings.

Runny: Somewhat liquid.

Smooth: Has consistent and minimal texture.

Soft: Responds easily to pressure.

Spreadable: Easily spread with a utensil across a surface.

Springy: When squeezed, quickly returns to its original shape.

Sticky: Gluey, clings to surfaces.

Supple: Bendable, moldable, flexible.


Acidic: A tart flavor caused by lactic acid.

Ammoniated: When past prime, some cheeses develop a smell and taste of ammonia.

Bitter: Sharp, sometimes disagreeable.

Buttery: High in fat and/or has a slightly sweet, butter flavor.

Caramely: Tastes similar to caramel.

Creamy: Thick, and tastes of cream.

Earthy: Rustic, grassy flavors and aromas.

Flowery: Has flavors reminiscent of flowers/plants.

Fruity: Has flavors reminiscent of fruits.

Gamey/Barnyardy: A taste that strongly reflects its animal source.

Mild: A gentle, unassuming flavor.

Milky: When a cheese still tastes like its original source.

Mushroomy: An earthy, almost meaty taste reminiscent of mushrooms.

Nutty: A nutty flavor, usually hazelnut.

Piquant: Pleasantly sharp or spicy.

Rich: Complex taste with depth.

Salty: High in salt content.

Sharp: Biting and strong.

Smokey: Has a faint smoked/smokey taste. 

Strong: A powerful, penetrating flavor.

Sweet: A hint of sweetness.

Tangy: A slightly acidic, distinctive flavor.

Umami: A savory flavor that some foods have.


Affinage: The process of aging or ripening cheese.

Annatto: A vegetable dye used to give cheeses an orange color.

Aromatic: A cheese with a strong smell.

Artisanal: Cheese made with traditional methods, by hand, in small batches.

Eyes: Holes in the body of cheese.

Farmstead: Cheese made from a farm’s own milk.

Mouthfeel: The physical feel of the cheese in the mouth.

Paste: The interior of all cheeses.

Terroir: The tiny details and characteristics unique to the location a cheese is made in.

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