Firstly, a big thank you!
I’ve had some very kind words about my last blog, where I gave a bit of background to what inspired me to create Fetaccompli. This time I’d like to address another question I’ve had, and one I’ve given a lot of thought to – “why does cheese need a ratings and review platform?”
Isn’t it funny what you remember from being a kid? I must have been 11 or 12 years old, shopping with my mum at a big Sainsbury’s. I was pretty well behaved by that age – probably because of a tantrum some years before which involved a pot of white pepper (don’t ask) – so I’d wander the aisles to satisfy my curious nature.
I was about to catch up with my mum when, in the wine aisle, a lady asked me about wine and what type to buy. To this day I’m not sure why. This wasn’t France where kids might be having a glass with their dinner. Perhaps I had an air of authority beyond my years? Or maybe I seemed like I had the precocious talent befitting what – I can only presume – would have made me the world’s youngest Sommelier. Who, obviously, would hang out in Sainsbury’s in Camberley, Surrey rather than the Loire or Napa Valley. There were always renegades.
Renegades of Plonk
Anyway as it happened, by this time Sainsbury’s were making a very basic effort to give you a little key with each wine to tell you if it was sweet or dry, what it paired with, and so on. This kind of idea, and customer need, was basically the seed from which Vivino sprung some 20-something years later.
Now, of course, wine has grown massively – doubled since that time, in fact. Sure, you might buy it in the supermarket – but tastes have changed and people demand more than they once did. I doubt that lady (there really was a lady) is so lost in a world of wine these days that she has to rely on the guidance of children. Since 2010, she’s been able to use an app on her phone – giving her access to a liquor library of 1.8 million wines from all over the world.
She might buy direct from Vivino. She might support winemakers as a Naked Wines Angel.
And chances are, she’ll want to do the same with cheese.
Cheese is playing catch-up
Since the Master Sommelier Diploma was offered in 1969, we’ve had to wait until 2020 for the world of cheese to offer its equivalent. Lovingly created by the Academy of Cheese who have distilled hundreds of years of experience and knowledge into a multi-tiered course for cheese producers, cheesemongers and cheese lovers alike from a Level One Associate through to the prestigious Master of Cheese.
I’ve completed Level One, making me an Associate of the Academy of Cheese; and I’m poised to take my Level Two exam, which would bring me up to Member status.
Honestly? It’s brilliant. While at times I’m reminded why I was never destined for a career in science, I love the overview, the history, the mystery and magic of how you can take milk and turn it into a ridiculously delicious range of cheese.
But I also discovered something shocking – how can the market share of artisan cheese – your decent, proper, quality cheese – be only 1%? ONE PERCENT?!
No two cheeses the same
Every cheese is different. Even if you have the same cheese, it will vary subtly based on the conditions at the time the milk was collected, how much moisture there was in the air, what the grass was like at the time.
It’s very much an edible snapshot of a precise moment in time.
With wine, you have a yearly vintage. But with cheese, you’re going to get something different to enjoy if you wait as little as a week or a month. If you’re as impatient as I am, or you crave delicious variety, that is an absolute joy.
There’s so much to learn about cheese, and not everybody is going to study to the extent that those of us with our Academy of Cheese certificates have.
So make sure you’re signed up to Fetaccompli, and I’m going to share the tastiest morsels with you – both literally and figuratively – by sharing reviews and features to make sure that you get the best out of the world of cheese.