Gorgonzola Dolce PDO
Those seeking a blue cheese with a kick might turn to a Gorgonzola Piccante, but not everyone is always in the mood for that Italian mountain cheese's hit of pungency. That's why this version was developed; meaning "sweet" in Italian, Gorgonzola "Dolce" was developed largely in response to the demand for a milder version of the iconic blue wheel.
The production process for Dolce is almost identical to that of Piccante, and both styles must be made according to name protection regulations (DOP in Italy; PDO at the EU level). Cow's milk is sourced from one of the designated provinces in Piedmont or Lombardy, and the cheese must also be made within that area. About 60 dairies, ranging from small family operations to giant industrial concerns, produce Gorgonzola.
The main difference between Dolce and Piccante is the age. The former matures for about two months, whereas the later is aged for at least three months and often longer. For both styles, milk is inoculated with blue mold spores to induce veining, but the Dolce requires a less intense culture.
The curd for Gorgonzola Dolce is neither cooked nor pressed. This results in a higher-moisture cheese with a lighter, more open texture that allows for ample development of blue mold. The vein development gets a boost when the wheels are three to four weeks old, at which time they're pierced with steel needles to introduce air. The interaction of oxygen with the enzymes, and mold with oxygen, allows the blueing to develop much more rapidly.
Weighing about 25 pounds, wheels of Gorgonzola Dolce are usually cut into quarters before shipment, with each piece wrapped in foil to protect the rind and prevent further moisture loss.
The interior paste of Gorgonzola Dolce is ivory-white in color with subtle blue-green veins that are widely spaced. Flavors are milky and unctuous, with notes of sour cream and butter and a clean, lactic tang.
Gorgonzola Dolce pairs well with a Tuscan Vin Santo or a Champagne. Our favorite way to eat it, though? Scooped into a mini ice cream cone.