The Right Way To Chat With Your Cheesemonger, According To An Expert

Maybe you're looking to learn more about the different types of cheese or maybe you want to splurge on a fancy cheese — either way, if you walk into a cheese shop, you'll want to speak with the cheesemonger to help guide your purchase. If talking to a cheese expert is intimidating or you don't know which questions to ask, don't worry — Tasting Table spoke with an expert to find out the best way to chat with your local cheese guru. The expert in question is Matthew Rose, the lead cheesemonger at Fairfield and Greenwich Cheese Company.

According to Rose, the best thing that you can do is be very specific with your cheesemonger about why you're looking to buy cheese. He poses the questions, "Are you making a cheese and charcuterie board for a small get-together? Have you been tasked with picking up cheese for a dinner party or a book group? Are you buying cheese for a big event to serve more than 20 people? Are you buying cheese as a gift for someone whom you don't really know their particular taste preferences?"

By providing any of this information, you'll help the cheesemonger pick out the best cheese for your specific needs. Additionally, Rose advises always being open to the cheesemonger's expert suggestions.

Always trust your cheesemonger's expertise

Matthew Rose notes that, because cheese can be quite complicated, it's super important to trust your cheesemonger's expertise. He explains, "Our focus is to know all of the technical and practical details and then translate that into you finding the perfect cheese." For example, if a cheese shop doesn't have a specific cheese that you're looking for, it doesn't mean all hope is lost — Rose says that there could be "a perfectly delicious substitute." 

He continues, "Ask them if there is something that they love right now regardless of style. Don't be afraid to try something new!" They may end up recommending a unique cheese that you wouldn't have known about otherwise, which will help your charcuterie board stand out. But, at the same time, you don't have to blindly trust the cheesemonger's recommendations. Rose says you don't need to be afraid to ask to try any of the cheeses that they recommend before you commit to buying them. 

He says, "Cheeses are living products and have lifespans and are affected by seasonality and may taste differently at different times." Along with each individual cheese varying from season to season, everyone has different preferences, so you'll definitely want to try before you buy. Then, once you're happy with your cheese choices, you can get to work building your charcuterie board.