I made this post because I was curious to know the inside story about cheese! There are countless variations and they can be confusing- as they can be categorized by country, texture, and type of milk. I hope you will be able to properly identify cheeses and enjoy them even more than you already do!
Classifying Cheese As Pierre Androuët asserts in his fundamental text Guide du Fromage (Guide to Cheese), a cheese should simply be what it is—its appearance, aroma, texture, and flavor should be characteristic of the variety to which it belongs. But how does one determinate a cheese's "type"? There are innumerable cheeses, and no single, standardized method for grouping them; rather, authorities employ different classification systems.
General characteristics, such as the type of milk (or whey) used or the country of origin, provide a starting point for discussing broad topics; for example, the relative unpopularity of sheep's milk cheese in the United States compared to European countries, or the social implications of cheese consumption in England as opposed to France. More specific classifications—the moisture content of the cheese (hard, semi-hard, soft, or fresh), whether it was made from pasteurized or unpasteurized milk, or the length of aging—may serve scientific inquiries concerned with bacterial development rates in different cheeses.
When cheese is classified by "type," it is grouped by similar characteristics like taste, smell, and appearance. The rind type and the method of production are often used as determining factors. Steven Jenkins describes eight different cheese "families" (including processed cheese) (Cheese Primer, pp. 11–13). These very common categories may help when choosing a cheese at the cheese counter, but a particular cheese may fit into more than one category, or not seem to fit in any.
Fresh cheese. After the formation of curds, the cheese (and also, sometimes, the whey) is usually transferred to plastic tubs and covered. The cheeses are eaten fresh, not ripened, and do not have a rind. Cottage cheese, cream cheese, and feta—a pickled cheese—are some common examples of fresh cheeses. Sometimes fresh Mozzarella is also included in this category because it does not form a rind, but this is problematic because Mozzarella curds are heated and stretched.
Bloomy rind cheeses. Also called simply "soft ripened cheese," this category includes cheeses like French Camembert and Brie, which are covered with velvety white molds that ripen the cheese from the outside in.
Washed-rind cheese. These orange, sticky, stinky cheeses are rubbed with a water, brine, or alcohol solution to invite the growth of ripening bacteria and molds on their rinds. Examples include the French Livarot (nicknamed "The Colonel" because it is ringed with raffia stripes) and Alsatian Munster.
Natural rind cheese. These cheeses are self-sufficient, naturally forming their rinds from air contact. Surface-molded goat cheeses and British Stilton are good examples. British farmhouse cheeses are sometimes included in the natural rind category because their permeable cheesecloth wrapping allows them to develop a thick protective rind. Likewise, Parmigiano-Reggiano and other cheeses are helped to form a rind that still develops largely from air contact.
Blue-veined cheese. To allow the growth of their distinctive bluish or greenish interior molds, these cheeses are never pressed. They are typically injected with a mold strain, and then pierced to expose the insides to air. They may be wrapped in foil like Italian Gorgonzola or form natural rinds like British Stilton.
Uncooked, pressed cheese. This is a category defined by processing type. These cheeses are pressed to remove whey, but are not cooked (see Treating the Curds).
Cooked, pressed cheese. Cheeses such as Swiss Emmental (sometimes Emmentaler) and Gruyère are cooked and pressed in the processes described above.
Here are some of my faves:
Gouda cheese is a Dutch cheese made from cows milk. It has a mild taste and an even texture. Traditionally it is waxed bright red.
Mozzarella is a generic term for several kinds of originally Italian cheeses that are made using spinning and then cutting.
The Roquefort is probably the world’s greatest blue cheese. The taste of the Roquefort cheese is quite outstanding; soft, creamy, slightly salty, with an after taste that leaves the palate craving for more.
Gruyere cheese is sweet but slightly salty, with a flavor that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming with age more assertive, earthy, and complex. When fully aged (five months to a year) it tends to have small holes and cracks which impart a slightly grainy mouth feel.
What is the Difference Between Parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano? Answer: Due to Italian D.O.C. laws that protect the names and recipes of certain cheeses, a cheese cannot be called Parmigiano-Reggiano unless it is made using a specific recipe and production method within the provinces of Parma, Reggio-Emilia, Modena, and specific regions in the provinces of Bologna and Mantua. The D.O.C laws are meant to preserve the integrity of traditional cheeses by insuring the flavor and quality. Therefore, any cheese made outside of these regions with a slightly different recipe or production method cannot be called Parmigiano-Reggiano. Parmesan is often thought of as an English version of the word Parmigiano-Reggiano, but it goes deeper than that. If a cheese is labeled as Parmesan, it is also a cheese that imitates the recipe for Parmigiano-Reggiano, but is made without following the D.O.C. laws. Typically, a cheese labeled as "parmesan" has not been made in Italy. Within Italy, cheeses that imitate Parmigiano-Reggiano are called Grana, which means "granular" and refers to the texture. An example is the cheese Grana Padano.
Here are some cheeses and their country from the Cheese library- check out the soure for more.