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The Cheddar Cheese Flavor Lexicon

Cheddar Lexicon

How many flavors are in your cheddar cheese? We’re willing to bet that you can’t find as many flavors as Dr. MaryAnne Drake of North Carolina State University Sensory Service Center. With a PhD in food science, the expert in dairy flavor—along with her colleagues—have identified 16 basic tastes and aromatics in cheddar cheese.



Dr. Blake really knows her stuff. When asked about Cougar Gold cheddar, she described is as such: “When ideal, its flavor profile should have a very large, round, robust flavor that’s characterized by sulfur and beefy, brothy notes, with slight but definite under-notes of fruity and nutty flavors, a lack of bitterness and a flavor that finishes up quickly in the mouth and does not linger.” Wow!

Most of the terms on the wheel are expected flavors: we can get behind salty and nutty. But we got a little confused when terms like catty appeared on this list. Looks like we need to start tasting some more cheddars! 

Interested in more flavor profiles? Check out this flavor wheel for Comté. 

Photo by Washington State Magazine 

Alicia Hahn

Alicia Hahn is an online editorial intern for culture who excels at eating and enjoys writing, crosswords, and cooking (preferably with cheese). Originally from San Francisco, she moved to Boston for school and fell in love with the city (despite an annual campaign against winter). Her favorite place to be is the farmers’ market, where she finds weird and exciting ingredients to make or break her next meal.