The Dutch and cheese go together like knives and forks, Bert and Ernie or bread and butter. With this in mind, and having only really experienced the Dutch Gouda cheese, and one version of an old cheese since I have lived here, I really wanted to do a proper cheese tasting. I did a quick search and found that Reypenaer was offering a cheese tasting for only €15 which gave you the chance to taste six different cheeses and included wine and soft drinks to go with it.
Michiel and I arrived on a Sunday, not really sure of what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised. The shop had a downstairs area where the cheese tasting took place, and it was a much more cosy version of a classroom with benches set up for two people with cheeses and empty glasses on the table. We sat down and waited. The room soon filled up with people and then we were shown a quick video about the family who make the cheese.
Once we had seen the video we had a small session asking questions and then it was down to the fun part – the actual tasting. We had all been given sheets, similar to in a wine tasting, where you write down the name, colour, smell taste, consistency, age, overall impression and grade. I really liked this idea and I was very excited.
The first two cheeses we tried were goats cheeses (which I really liked), and they were both young cheeses, but they both had distincly different tastes. There was Chevré and the second was Chevré Gris, my favourite of the two being the Gris. Once we had tried the cheeses on their own we were offered a drink to compliment the cheeses. In the first instance it was La Croisade, Viognier which was a white wine. For the second we were given a glass of Shiraz.
Then we were onto the normal cow’s milk cheeses and I found out that the reason there’s a difference between the colours of goats cheese and cow’s cheese is carotene. Goats are able to use their carotene up, which makes their cheese come out white, and cow’s can’t use it, so their cheese comes out yellow! We tried a Gouda, which Michiel and I eat almost every day so this was the most unexciting cheese for us.
Then we got onto the stronger cheese which I was really interested in. The first we tried was the Reypenaer, which had small white spots in it. It was more crumbly than the other cheeses, and smelt like almonds. This cheese was one year old and I quite liked it (I think I have probably tried a similar age of cheese before.) It was quite funny, because the smelling part is largely ignored when you’re eating cheese on a day-to-day basis, but I actually found this really interesting when I started smelling bread and chocolate and creme fraiche!
The absolute star for me was the Reypenaer V.S.O.P cheese, but only when it was served with port. It was stronger than the Reypenaer as it was two years old, and it was funny because when I smelt it, all I could think of was chocolate! It’s taste was pretty nutty, but a bit strong for me, but paired with the port it tasted just like caramel which I really liked.
The Reypenaer X.O is the strongest, and oldest cheese that we tasted. I liked this cheese better with port as well because it also had a very strong flavour which reminded me of almonds, but I didn’t mind it on it’s own. It smelt a bit like hay, and I found out that this cheese is only made with summer milk which might explain why it smelt of hay.
At the end of the session you get a certificate which entitlees you to 15% off in the shop, which I thought was a nice touch. There is also an option to pay €20 for the tasting, instead of €15 and you got a gift, which I think was one of the cheeses.
It was really fun and I learnt a lot more about the kind of cheeses that I like and I can definitely recommend it. For more information please visit Reypenaer’s website