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Buy European Cheese Online - The 21 Best Types

Updated on July 25, 2009

Some people are satisfied with throwing a slice of processed “cheese food” onto a bologna sandwich and calling it a day. Sorry to say it, but these people don’t actually enjoy cheese. Real cheese lovers are the folks who would eat a whole pound of camembert cheese without so much as a cracker or a glass of wine to go with it. The only thing that stops from doing that is the fact that we’d be paying for such reckless behaviour with indigestion for the following month.

If you’re a cheese lover, but you’re just getting acquainted with the idea of exotic cheeses and you don’t want to blow too much money on some perfectly aged brie cheese without knowing whether or not you’ll like it, the following list of European cheeses should serve as a nice little primer course.

Of course, here’s the main rule when it comes to “the finer things in life”: If you like it, it’s good. No matter what anyone tells you about a particular bottle of wine, a certain blend of cigar or any kind of fancy cheese, it’s only good if you like it. So try a few of these out, and explore the different brands and varieties of your favourites.

Now, note that these are in no particular order. Like we said, you’ll have to figure out for yourself which one you like best.

Brie with Fruit

(c)Joshua Rappeneker @
(c)Joshua Rappeneker @

1. Brie Cheese

A surprisingly soft cow cheese, Brie cheese offers a creamy, mild flavour, and throughout France, it is a popular breakfast cheese. You can have brie with just about anything you like, though it’s not very well suited for making into dishes. Just make sure to eat the rind, as the subtle bitterness provided therein helps to complete the package.


2. Edam Cheese

The mild flavour of edam cheese may surprise you on first taste. It tends to carry a slight nutty or salty flavour, but with little aftertaste and very little smell. Edam is also a very soft cheese, due to its low fat content. This mild flavour lends the cheese very well to cheese fruits and is often eaten with apples or pears. It tends to be a tad lacking if you’re hoping to prepare some gourmet European cuisine, as it is easily overpowered when paired with meats and seasonings, but try it as a wine cheese, with some pinot noir, and you’ll probably fall in love.

Swiss Counter

(c) Loan Sameli @
(c) Loan Sameli @

3. Swiss Cheese

If you think Swiss cheese is just the white stuff with holes in it, think again. Swiss cheese is actually a large family of cheeses made in Switzerland, but Emmentaler is the one that tends to be most popular internationally, and that’s the one that non-cheese experts typically refer to as “Swiss cheese”. The flavour is usually described as piquant, but not overly sharp. This lends the cheese well to various dishes as it neither overwhelms nor is overwhelmed by, the other flavours. In European cuisine, Swiss is traditionally used on top of gratins and casseroles to allow for a nice golden brown crust. It’s also popular in fondue cheese mixes, where it is combined with Gruyere cheese.


4. Stilton Cheese

Outside of European food markets, Stilton cheese can be pretty tough to get your hands on without spending an arm and a leg. The cheese has been granted the status of having a “protected designation of origin” by the European Commission, meaning that only three countries, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire are allowed to produce a cheese and call it Stilton. Only eight dairies in the world are even licensed to make this stuff.

The cheese itself tastes a bit like Bleu cheese. If you get a chance, try some blueberry white stilton alongside some celery or pears with a bottle of port. The cheese is popular in vegetable soups (it doesn’t complement meat so well) and has even been used to flavour chocolate dishes.

Gruyère cheese at Maison de Gruyère

(c) Ted Drake @
(c) Ted Drake @

5. Gruyere Cheese

The hard yellow Gruyere cheese is surprisingly sweet on first bite, with a bit of saltiness. The flavour varies with age, with young cheese being described as creamy and nutty, and older cheese being described as earthy, complex, and a bit more potent. The flavour is strong, but not overwhelming, making it a common ingredient in dozens of recipes from French toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, to garlic soup, or even being grated onto salads and pastas. Try it with Riesling, sparkling apple cider, or a favourite dark beer.

Camembert on Toast

(c)MarkHillary @
(c)MarkHillary @

6. Camembert Cheese

Don’t even bother trying to buy Camembert cheese locally until you do some research. Real Camembert is made with unpasteurised milk, and many countries restrict the production and sale of such products. The real stuff has a unique characteristic in that, the longer it ages, the softer it gets, and the more strongly flavoured, until, eventually, you have little more than a rind filled with liquid cheese.

Camembert is popular in many European foods, but most Camembert lovers will tell you that the only real way to enjoy the subtle flavour is to serve it at room temperature on top of some bread with a bottle of wine of your choice. You may want to try it with a white wine choice so as not to overpower it.


7. Roquefort Cheese

Roquefort cheese isn’t for beginners, unless you’re particularly brave. The cheese features green veins which offer a sharp tang, with the overall flavour being described as mild, then sweet, then smoky, and then salty. It’s pretty complex, and may throw cheese newbies for a loop.

If you’re crazy, you can go ahead and try to prepare it in a dish. Its complex flavour makes it very tricky to work into any sort of sandwich or soup. Luckily, it doesn’t need any of that to spice it up. Have some with some bread and red wine of your choice, and it should provide an experience all on its own.


(c)RBerteiq @
(c)RBerteiq @

8. Mozzarella Cheese

Do we really need to tell you about mozzarella cheese? You know, pizza cheese! Of course, it’s much more than just pizza cheese, though (heck, the Italians don’t even put it on pizza). The cheese is mild, yet noticeable, which lends it to hundreds of different recipes. Next time you go to the specialty grocery store, try some smoked or stuffed mozzarella, get your favourite wine and some French bread, and see how you like mozzarella with no pepperoni on it.

Feta cheese - withe oil

(c)Navin75 @
(c)Navin75 @

9. Feta Cheese

Feta offers a unique tangy, salty flavour, ranging from mild to sharp depending on age. It’s easily cooked, making it a great choice for grilled sandwiches, though the most important of European recipes for the cheese is probably the Greek salad. If you want a light dinner, try a Greek salad with a white wine.


10. Parmesan Cheese

We’re all familiar with this Italian cheese, of course, so we’re listing it here to let you know… it’s not just for sprinkling onto Italian and European food. Sure, that’s a big part of it. It’s great on salads, soups, risotto, it’s a vital ingredient in Alfredo sauce and pesto, but if you really want to enjoy parmesan cheese, get a block of it, cut it into chunks, and try dipping it into balsamic vinegar. Try that with a port, you don’t even need crackers or bread, and you may wind up seeing parmesan in a new light.


(c)Rachel Black @
(c)Rachel Black @

11. Gorgonzola Cheese

Gorgonzola, depending on age, can be buttery, firm, or crumbly. It can either be mild, or considerably salty. It can vary to such an extent that it’s hard to generalize here and recommend this or that dish or wine, so we’ll say to look at the blue veining. The more blue, the more bite. Milder gorgonzola is pretty versatile and you can throw it on risotto, pizza, or short pasta dishes like penne. Stronger gorgonzola is best experienced with bread, port wine, and a few friends.


(c)bl0ndeeo2 @
(c)bl0ndeeo2 @

12. Munster Cheese

Muenster cheese, with a ‘ue’, is actually an American derivative. What you want is munster cheese, a salty French cheese that comes in various flavours. You can get munster blanc, white munster cheese, which is unflavoured and tends to go well with European recipes for sandwiches and soups, or you can look for well aged and well seasoned munster, which will come with a bit of a bite, and is best paired with bread and some strong red wine of your choice.


13. Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar cheese may seem like a pedestrian choice for this list, but consider that cheddar makes up 51% of the cheese market in the UK, and you’ll see that it’s hard to knock it as an important European cheese.

Of course, true cheese buffs don’t just grab any old cheddar off the shelf. If you want to get adventurous, go to a good wine store and start exploring the “advanced” cheddars. Extra sharp, mature, old, vintage, all indicating both age and strength. Mild and medium taste good on a ham sandwich, but you’ll want to save the harder stuff for something a little more exquisite, like onion soup and some pinot noir.

Fun fact: Did you know that cheddar is usually called “tasty cheese” in Australia and New Zealand? It says it right on the packaging and everything! Tasty cheese!


14. Romano Cheese

If you live in the US, you may think you like Romano cheese, but the Romano sold in the US is typically not real Romano. Real Romano is made from sheep or goat milk, and is sharp and tangy, with Caprino Romano, the goat’s milk version, being extremely sharp. Romano can be grated over just about anything, though with Caprino, you’ll want to watch the portions. Romano is one of the oldest Italian cheeses, dating all the way back to its namesake of ancient Rome.


(c)ManvelMC @
(c)ManvelMC @

15. Gouda Cheese

A surprisingly sweet tasting cheese, Gouda is best paired with lighter wines (it may be one of the few cheeses that can go really well with a blush). Sometimes described as having a light caramel taste, smoked Gouda is an excellent choice for bruschetta, lending a very slight crunchiness.


16. Havarti Cheese

A semi-soft cheese, Havarti cheese offers a uniquely smooth, creamy flavour and a pleasing buttery aroma. If you’d like a slightly stronger variation, Havarti aged past three months can add a bit of a bite to the experience.

Havarti is tricky to use in dishes, though it typically mixes well with turkey, raisins, walnuts, and cheese fruits like apples and pears. Havarti’s sweet flavour is right at home alongside a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.


(c)ACME @
(c)ACME @

17. Raclette Cheese

A popular fondue cheese, Raclette cheese comes in about a million and one different flavours. Semi-firm, salted, and a bit mild, the cheese easily lends itself to being flavoured with pepper, herbs, or white wine. It tends to go well with white wines, particularly Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Savoie wine.

As for European cuisine, well, it actually has a dish named after it: Raclette. Raclette, today, is typically served with an electric table top grill, hot plate, or griddle, and some small pans. Diners sit around the table, selecting their own meats and vegetables, cooking them on the grill, and then the cheese may be either melted right into the pan, laid on top to melt slowly, or melted in a pan and poured right over the food. Raclette is not only a meal, but a bit of a ritual, associated with relaxed eating and drinking between close friends, with a Raclette meal often carrying on for several hours.

Halloumi - Grilled

(c)Harris Graber @
(c)Harris Graber @

18. Halloumi Cheese

The Greek Halloumi cheese is best known in Europe as a part of Cypriot cuisine. Made from a mix of goat and sheep milk, the cheese has an incredibly high melting point, meaning that you can actually grill the cheese just like meat, right on the open flame.

Traditionally, Halloumi, a saltier cheese, is eaten with watermelon in the warmer months, and smoked pork or lamb sausage in the colder seasons. If grilled cheese and watermelon sounds a little too exotic, Western European and American tastes may find it suitable with a fruitier wine in the summer.


19. Bryndza Cheese

A sheep milk gourmet cheese from Central and Eastern Europe, you’ll find that each country actually has their own special European recipes for the cheese. By and large, though, it is a crumbly, soft cheese. The various recipes differ to such an extent that you could spend as much time exploring different types of Bryndza as you could exploring a dozen other types of cheese. Younger Bryndzas tend to be a bit mild, where fully matured Bryndzas tend to be sharper. The flavour is generally akin to Feta.


20. Maasdam Cheese

Maasdam cheese was invented as a poor man’s answer to the gourmet cheese Swiss Emmental. Aging to full maturity in just four weeks, the cheese is less expensive to produce. However, the Dutch cheese makers who invented Maasdam wound up creating a whole new type of cheese. Maasdam is actually soft, nutty, and sweet, unlike the sometimes bitter Emmental.

It is best as something of a desert cheese, so if you’re feeling adventurous, try Maasdam with a toasted sourdough baguette, a light drizzling of honey, and a glass of Riesling.


(c)STAR5112 @
(c)STAR5112 @

21. Appenzeller Cheese

Appenzeller has a well documented history in European foods, going back about 700 years. Appenzeller is a hard cow milk cheese, usually flavoured with an herbal brine, which may contain wine or cider. Only about 75 dairies produce the cheese today, all in the Appenzell region of northeast Switzerland. The flavour of the cheese tends to differ greatly depending on the dairy’s recipe, which is usually a trade secret, though it tends to be fruity or nutty, and ranging from mild to tangy.

Even the milder Appenzellers provide some complexities, so rather than cooking into a dish, Appenzeller may be best appreciated with a Riesling for the milder, or silver label cheeses, and a port for the tangier gold and black label cheeses.

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    • frogyfish profile image


      8 years ago from Central United States of America

      Interesting cheese facts here and learned of some I never heard about. I must bookmark your page for when I go cheese-shopping! Thank you!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I like cheese ... a good article about the Gouda cheese ... very informative and useful for my next hub ... thanks

    • dragonbear profile image


      9 years ago from Essex UK

      Oh please! This is too much before lunch on a Saturday! Now I just want it! My partner and I love cheese... it's a delight, a true pleasure!

      Note to self - cheeseboard for lunch on Sunday!!

    • angelo di fluno profile image

      angelo di fluno 

      10 years ago from Italy

      Good Hub ! Congratulation!


    • Mardi profile image

      Mardi Winder-Adams 

      10 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

      My mouth is watering and I am drooling on the keyboard. I have tried many of these cheeses but have a few more I would sure like to try after reading this.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Love cheese. It all looks so good. I like the hard cheeses but until this hub, had never heard of a few of these.

      Thanks for the cheese lesson today. Its great.

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      10 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      My own favourite is so hard to get hold of I didn't mention iit - Vieux Panne (if I've spelled that correctly)!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I love cheese - here in south of France I am spoiled just bay the vast local choice on offer. The markets have loads of cheese stalls - all with 'tasters' - we like getting a strong camebert in one of those round wooden boxes, wrapping it in foil and sticking it o bake in the over; then we dip lovely local, nuty bread into it.

      You've reminded me about haloumi - haven't had that for ages - it is great on BBQ's especially if there are vegetarians present.

      thanks for another great Hub.


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