Alpen Tilsiter is an aromatic, delicate cheese in a class of its own. It is made by using fresh raw milk and itnis then washed with a finely balanced mixture of Alpine herbs and specially selected Müller-Thurgau white wine. This cheese is allowed to ripen for four to six months until its full aroma has developed. Alpenland Tilsiter Switzerland comes as a round wheel, with small round isolated holes, a grey/black rind and of course a delicate flavor. The cheese originally come from Holland, was taken to Tilsit in the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, and brought to Switzerland where a lot of varieties are made today, all of which I regard the Alpen Tilsiter the highest. Try it on a slice of country or rye bread together with good farmstead butter. Very tasteful.
To drink: A white from Valais, but a Blonde beer will also work very well here.
Appenzeller is a fixed unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese that comes from the areas Appenzell Innerrhoden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden as well as some areas of St. Gallen and Thurgau in northeastern Switzerland. Matured from three months upwards and washed with an herbal solution that also usually contains wine or cider. Straw colored with small holes while the rind is golden. Moderate fragrance, fresh and nutty flavor. The flavor goes from mild to more strict depending on how long the cheese is matured. Appenzeller comes in three varieties: Classic is the youngest, aged for three to four months. Surchoix aged four to six months, while the Extra is aged six months and up. Classic is also available in an organic version. There is also an Alpenzeller only produced on at the chalets p un the mountains corresponding to Alpage elsewhere. AOP protected.
To drink: Try a fresh riesling. And if you want beer then a stout is recommended.
Berner Alp- and Hobelkäse
This is the same cheese in two stages, and they both have the geographical AOP protection. It starts out as a Berner Alpkäse, a hard cheese made with raw cow milk and stored up to 12 months. Stored in rather saturated brine for a day, thereafter rubbed regularly with salt and brine. Only the best Alpkäse are selected for further maturing to become Hobelkäse with a total maturing up to three years. As the name indicates the cheese comes from the Bernese Oberland and has been made there since the 16th century. The AOP protection was gained in 2004 for both varieties. Comes in wheels from 5 to 16 kilos. The Alpkäse is mild and spicy, while the mildness fades away with maturing when the cheese turns into Hobelkäse.
To drink:For the Alpkäse a local Valais will work fine. For the Hobelkäse I recommend you choose a white from the French Jura or Burgundy.
Emmentaler Switzerland is a classic Swiss alpine cheese known for its holes. Perhaps the most copied of all the Swiss cheeses. Also comes in a French variety. Manufactured by approximately 200 small village dairies in and around the valley Emme in mid Switzerland. Unpasteurized and AOP-protected. Important to note that it is Emmentaler Switzerland that is protected, Emmentaler as such is not a protected name. The cheese is made in huge wheels of between 75 and 120 kilos and comes in three varieties: Classic which is mild and matured for a minimum of four months. Reserve, naturally, more of everything through at least eight months aging. Want even more flavor? Then look for a Cave aged (“Höhlengereift”) with a minimum of 12 months’ maturation. Lovely yellow color and reasonably structured holes (as opposed to the French version). The cave aged has a pretty intense sweet nutty flavor. Just as suitable for fondue as with country bread and farm butter.
To drink: A generous cheese requires a generous wine. Both red and white burgundy is excellent here, as well as red and white Rhone wines.
Up in the mountains in the canton of Vaud, during a very specific period of time; between May 10th and October 10th, at about 130 mountain pastures using milk from 2,800 cows all grazing in an area between 1000 and 2000 meters above sea level, Etivaz is made. By hand. In boilers heated over a wooden fire. Unpasteurized and firm. AOP protected.
To drink: I’d pop over to France for a wine from the Jura area. Otherwise I think that red Burgundy would be perfect a well.
Swiss alpine cheese from the area around the town of Gruyères in the canton of Fribourg, in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Also called the cheeses’ cheese. Has a very long history. As with most cheese from Switzerland this as well is made from cow’s milk. Unpasteurized and with AOP protection. Compact with no holes. Pale yellow in color. Like most mountain cheeses, it has a nutty and delicate sweetish taste. Somewhat sharper than other alpine cheeses. Aged for 3 to 10 months, and the flavor becomes more complex with age and texture often slightly crumbly. Comes in two styles, a summer style; Gruyère Alpage where the cows are fed only grass, and a winter style made down in the valley where the cows are hay fed.
To drink: A Chardonnay from the French side of the border, usually from the Jura region. Fits red wine as well, in which case I recommend the Burgundy/Rhone area.
A cheese that was created as recently as 1992 by Jean-Michel Rapin from Erlach in Broye, in the canton of Vaud. Was created as an alternative to Gruyère. The name has been given by his grandfather who was a blacksmith, Maréchal-Ferrant in French. This is Gruyère style, but is somewhat sweeter and with some spicy aromas as it is rubbed with local herbs. The cheese has a wonderful portrait on the rind, obviously of the blacksmith grandfather. A great cheese that almost melts on the tongue and is ideal in cheese fondue. Unpasteurized cow’s milk and handmade. Aged at least four months.
To drink: A fresh white wine from Savoie since it has a little more acid than Chardonnay’er from Jura.
Raclette du Valais
There are Raclette Suissse manufactured almost all over the country, and there’s Raclette du Valais AOP, or Walliser Raclette if you like, only manufactured in canton of Valais. It is in Southern Switzerland along the border with Italy and slightly inland. Raclette is also known as a Swiss dish with an iron developed for this purpose; yes oven as well if you plan to run big. The cheese is heated, scraped and served on boiled potatoes with pickles and cured meats of any kind and other snacks. Very sociable and nice dish this. The cheese is semi-firm but may well be perceived as firm. Perhaps somewhat dry texture. Melts well. The name Raclette derives from a local dialect and is fairly new compared to the cheese whose origins date back to Roman times; year 400 BC. The cheese must be produced in the Valais, the milk must come from there and the cheese must age there. In return, there are no restrictions on where it is manufactured within the canton borders. Unpasteurized. Raclette is relatively well accessible. AOP since 2007.
To drink: A dry and fruity white wine and a glass of kirsch.
A hard cow’s milk cheese from the north central Switzerland. A great cheese with lots of flavor, actually a jewel. Minimum maturation of this cheese 18 months, of which at least 12 must be within the originating area. Common aging is between 18 and 24 months. Both the consistency and style may well remind you of Parmigiano Reggiano. Unpasteurized and with AOP protection. Only 32 dairies in the mountains and valleys can produce this cheese. The name arose because it was shipped to and sold in the market in Brienz, southeast of Bern.
To drink: This negotiates both red and white. Let it be quality wine without too much oak and tannins.
Alpkäse is regarded as the forerunner of hard and semi-hard cheese. The first written evidence that the use of the Alps was already firmly anchored in the rural society of the Ticino region of Switzerland and therefore that Alpkäse was being produced at that time, comes from the 12th century. Its special features can be traced back to the specific characteristics of the Alpine meadow flora and the approximately 250 different plant species the cattle feed on during summer which gives the cheese its mild but distinctive, unique flavour and fragrance. Raw milk of course. Matured for 60 days. AOP since 2002.
To drink: A white wine on the Chardonnay grape with well integrated oak, if any at all. An Austrian Grüner Veltliner will also pair well.
Tête de Moine AOP
From northwest Switzerland specifically the Swiss Jura. Tête de Moine, it means monk’s head, is a semi-solid cylindrical cheese of about 800 grams made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. The monks at the Bellelay Monastery in Jura started to make this cheese about 800 years ago. The cheese has AOP protection. Do not cut the cheese the transitional way but scraped with a special tool called Girolle. Using the Girolle you get thin rosettes that literally melts on the tongue. It is also sold pre-stripped. The cheese that is a washed rind and must age in the area of origin. Stored on spruce plank three to four months before consumption.
To drink: A light Pinot Noir.
Dutch immigrants to the town of Tilsit in East Prussia were the ones who first made Tilsiter. Tilsit is located in what we now know as the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Swiss immigrants to the region left the region in mid-1890s and brought the recipe with them and from then onwards made Swiss Tilsiter in northeastern Switzerland. Hence also the official name Tilsiter Switzerland. Comes in five different styles, all cow’s milk. Tilsiter Red Switzerland is the classic and is made partially from raw milk and partially from termized milk, conventional and organic. Past-Tilsiter Switzerland is a pasteurized variety. Alpen Tilsiter a chalet variety and the only one that is unpasteurized. Tilsiter Switzerland Surchoix and Alpen Tilsiter are are aged the longest; up to six months. Finally there is an organic one with added cream; Bio-Rahm-Tilsiter Switzerland which is also pasteurized. Tilsiter is a semi firm cheese, pale yellow in color. Cheese wheels at 4 to 4.5 kg. Has a pronounced taste and look good on bread and fondue.
To drink: A good cup of tea.
As the name implies, this is a cheese from the canton of Fribourg. Thus the same area as Gruyère. That’s also part of the history behind this cheese. It was the young shepherds who created it, and it’s not bigger than they were able to carry it. Gruyère usually comes in huge wheels and the older and experienced took care of that. 7-8 kilo this. Unpasteurized cow’s milk and with AOP protection. Nice taste of nuts and milk. Maybe a little softer in texture than regular mountain cheeses. Nice piercing of rather small holes. Paste is pale yellow to ivory. Great fondue cheese, both taste wise and that it has a low melting point at about 50 ℃. In summer they also make a Vacherin Fribourgeois Alpage created on these farms using ancient methods. Comes in six different varieties.
To drink: White wine, preferably from Valais, but personally I would prefer wine from the French side of the border. Preferably Jura but also Savoie.
Vacherin Mont d’Or AOC
The Swiss version of Mont d’Or Vacherin. Very similar to the French one with a significant exception, this is made from termized milk. It means that I personally prefer the French. Otherwise, very much alike, especially the shape and scope.
To drink: A French white wine from the Chardonnay grape.