Wisconsin’s reputation as America’s Dairyland extends beyond its picturesque landscapes and thriving dairy farms. The state is renowned for its award-winning cheeses, celebrated for their exceptional flavors, craftsmanship, and quality. From classic cheddar to unique blue varieties, Wisconsin cheeses offer a range of flavors to discover and enjoy.
History of Wisconsin Cheese
Wisconsin has a long and proud history of cheese making, dating back to the 19th century. Originally brought to the state by German and Swiss immigrants, cheese-making eventually became a renowned industry for Wisconsin. In the early 20th century, Wisconsin cheesemakers developed several new varieties, including brick and muenster cheeses. By the 1950s, Wisconsin had become the leading cheese producer in the United States.
Today, Wisconsin is still the top cheese producer in the country, producing over 600 different varieties of cheese. Wisconsin cheesemakers have won numerous awards for their products, including the World Championship Cheese Contest, held every two years in Madison, Wisconsin.
Types of Wisconsin Cheese
From creamy Cheddar to tangy blues and everything in between, you have a wide range to order Wisconsin cheeses that captivate the palates of cheese connoisseurs worldwide.
Cheddar: A Timeless Classic with Endless Variety
Cheddar cheese holds a special place in Wisconsin’s cheese-making heritage. Renowned for its versatility, Cheddar can range from mild and buttery to sharp and robust, catering to a wide range of tastes. Wisconsin Cheddar often exhibits a rich, creamy texture with complex flavors that develop over time. Aging imparts nutty, fruity, and sometimes caramel-like notes, creating a depth of flavor that distinguishes them from other Cheddars. Your desire for a young, mellow Cheddar or an aged, sharp one, the Wisconsin cheese industry can satisfy every palate.
Blue Cheese: Tangy and Bold
Wisconsin’s blue cheeses offer a delightful tanginess and bold flavors that can range from mild to robust. These cheeses are characterized by the presence of blue or green veins that result from the growth of beneficial mold cultures. The tanginess is balanced by a creamy texture, creating a delightful contrast. Some Wisconsin blue cheeses showcase earthy, grassy undertones, while others have a more pronounced spicy or peppery flavor.
Specialty and Artisanal Cheeses: Unleashing Creativity
Wisconsin’s artisanal cheese-making scene is brimming with creativity and innovation. Cheese artisans experiment with a myriad of flavors, infusing traditional cheese styles with unique ingredients, and incorporating diverse aging techniques. From smoked Gouda to cranberry-infused Cheddar, jalapeño Havarti to truffle-laced cheese, Wisconsin’s specialty and artisanal cheeses push the boundaries of flavor exploration. These cheeses captivate adventurous taste buds, offering exciting combinations that surprise and delight.
Colby and Colby-Jack: Mild and Creamy Delights
Colby and Colby-Jack cheeses originate from Wisconsin and are characterized by their mild, creamy flavors. Colby is a semi-soft cheese with a gentle but slightly tangy taste. It is often compared to Cheddar but has a milder profile. Colby-Jack, a blend of Colby and Monterey Jack, combines the mildness of Colby with the smooth, buttery flavors of Monterey Jack. The marbled appearance of Colby-Jack adds a visual appeal to its delightful taste, making it a popular choice for cheese lovers seeking a harmonious balance of flavors.
Swiss: A Delicate Nuttiness and Eye-Catching Holes
Swiss cheese is another beloved cheese style produced in Wisconsin for its distinctive holes and characteristic nutty flavor. Known for its smooth, creamy texture and delicate sweetness, Swiss cheese exhibits a subtle yet pleasing nuttiness. The holes, formed during fermentation, add an intriguing visual element to the cheese. Whether enjoyed on its own, melted in sandwiches, or as a key ingredient in fondue, Wisconsin Swiss cheese brings a unique flavor profile that is both delightful and versatile.
Awards and Recognition
Wisconsin’s cheeses have been winning awards in national and international competitions for decades. In the 2020 World Championship Cheese Contest, held in Madison, Wisconsin, Wisconsin cheesemakers won a total of 37 awards, including Best of Class, Best of Show, and Best of State.
Wisconsin cheesemakers have also won awards in the American Cheese Society Competitions and the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest. The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) is also dedicated to promoting and recognizing the cheeses of Wisconsin, with awards such as the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Cheese Awards.
Cheeses from Wisconsin are renowned for winning awards and for good reason. Wisconsin’s cheeses have earned countless honors in national and international competitions thanks to their astonishing variety of tastes, textures, and styles. Wisconsin cheeses come in a variety of flavors, from traditional cheddar to unusual blue variations. These cheeses are sure to please the desire to try something new or simply want to indulge in the best cheeses in the world.