Alpine Cheese

In Wisconsin, we pine for alpine-style cheese

Alpine-style cheese is a local favorite. Born and raised among the rugged peaks of Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, and northern Italy since the 11th century, the alpine-style cheese family is beloved by cheese lovers everywhere for the smoothness of its texture, the complexity of its flavor – and because it melts more effortlessly than a chocolate bar on the leatherette seats of your '57 Chevy.

Alpine-style cheeses are like old friends. From emmenthaler to fontina and swiss cheese (of alpine-style cheese), these are cheeses that almost everyone knows and loves. Rough terrain and harsh weather are what give these white-to-golden rustic cheeses their character, not to mention their rich, nutty, earthy flavor. Our cheesemakers have been producing award-winning alpine-style cheeses for nearly 200 years. Our secret: traditional techniques from the soaring alpine terroir, updated for the gentle rolling hills of Wisconsin's farmland. So, when it comes to alpine-style cheese from Wisconsin, we'll always yodel its praises.

Pair my alpine-style cheese, please

Need a great melting cheese for a fondue, gratin, quiche, or soufflé? Alpine-style cheese has your back. These flavorful melters add richness and texture to any savory dish. On a cheese board, alpine-style cheese likes to hang with foods of similarly compelling character – oil-cured mushrooms, smoked fish and meats, pickled vegetables, and roasted nuts. Add a chunk of crusty whole-grain bread and it's like you're a charcuterie master.

For liquids, these robust and rugged cheeses pair well with a little sweetness – brown or amber ales, bocks and stouts, or Belgian-style ales are preferred. For wine, fruit-forward reds or whites will do – try a cabernet, zinfandel, riesling or Grüner Veltliner. Need something heavier for a cold winter night? Port, whiskey, maidera, and scotch all sip better with a little alpine-style cheese.

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FAQs: What is alpine-style cheese?

What is alpine-style cheese?

Alpine-style cheese is a family of semi-firm to hard cheeses that originate in the mountains of Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, and northern Italy. Alpine-style cheese is made from the milk of animals, usually cows, that have grazed their way through alpine meadows up and down the mountains throughout the year, producing high-quality, high butterfat milk that results in highly complex and nuanced flavors when pressed into cheese. Alpine-style cheese is traditionally made in large wheels that enable longer shelf life and provide more stability as the cheese is transported down the mountain.

How is alpine-style cheese made?

Alpine-style cheese is typically made by heating milk in huge copper vats over a fire. After the milk curds are separated, they're reheated to a higher temperature and pressed to get rid of excess moisture, which allows the cheese to age for several years. Alpine-style cheeses tend to use little salt, as the cheeses were made in mountainside huts and any ingredients would have had to be carted up the mountain.

Why does alpine-style cheese have holes?

Alpine-style cheeses are famous for their holes, which can run from tiny cracks to large, marble-sized openings. These are the byproduct of carbon dioxide produced by bacteria that thrive on the low-salt, low-acid environment of alpine-style cheeses. Carbon dioxide gas is released during the cheesemaking process and, as the cheese hardens, the bubbles become permanent holes.

Alpine-style cheese from Mt. Wisconsin

Okay. you won't find any alpine meadows in our fertile DairyLand. But a friendly tasting contest between Wisconsin alpine-style cheese and the cheeses actually made in the central Alps? We'll take that action any day.

That's because we take our cheese as seriously as anybody, anywhere. In fact, you can think of Wisconsin as the "peak" of the art of cheesemaking today. Heck, we've been making cheese in Wisconsin since before Wisconsin was a state. We make more flavors and varieties of cheese than anywhere else on earth. And we're dang good at it, too. To toot our own alpenhorn, we've won more cheese awards than any other state or country in the world. And while Switzerland does have one of only two Master Cheesemakers programs in the world, do you know who has the other one? Wisconsin. (Yep, you heard that right.)

So, next time you're looking for alpine-style cheese, look to the pinnacle, the apex, the highest summit of cheesemaking talent in the world. Look north – to Wisconsin.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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