1: The simplest is fresh cheese, and it is the most low tech. It is closely related to the cottage cheese that I made and described above. Simply sour the heated milk by using rennet, ladle the curds into moulds, and consume within a week. To aid consumption blocks of this cheese are small. As it is not matured long enough to harden, it is a soft, often crumbly cheese. It goes well with biscuits, which we British call crackers, and also goes well in salads. I like it on toast. If you are taking it with wine, a light white wine is ideal.
2: Mould-ripened cheeses, such as camembert and brie, have the milk infected with Penicillium camemberti. A variety of organisms get into the mould, but the cheesemakers overwhelm the rest by flooding the mould with Penicillium. This enables them to get the desired effect, which is a rind that coats the cheese. These cheeses go well with a light, fruity red wine.
3: Washed rind cheeses. These have a bacterial rind which is achieved by killing off the fungal moulds. This is done by washing them in brine, but many are then washed in one of a variety of alcoholic drinks. The result is a pinkish, sticky rind which gives the cheese its flavour. Cheeses of this type are smelly, as the microbes give off ammonia when ripening. The French call the smell "the feet of God." One British example is Celtic Promise, which comes from Ceredigion in West Wales. Washed rind cheeses go well with a good Burgundy or a dark beer.
4:Blue Cheeses. I have already mentioned how they are made, but it is important to add that it is necessary for them to have some degree of softness about them so that the mould's penetration will not be impeded. There are two outstanding examples of blue cheese. One is Stilton, produced only in certain English creameries and known as a queen among cheeses. Another is the Irish cheese Cashel Blue, made in the lovely vale of Tipperary. Enjoy these with a good port, though I have had these cheeses with white wine and enjoyed them.
5: Semi-soft cheeses. This is a broad category that contains instances of others in it. To make a semi-soft cheese heat the curd to release more whey, the residual liquid left over from cheese- making. Semi-soft is a good category for mixing fruit into the cheese, as hard cheese would squash the fruit too much. Wensleydale is a good example of a semi-soft cheese. A variety of wines go well with these cheeses.
6: The quintessential hard cheese is cheddar, but it is not too hard too be enjoyed. This kind of cheese stores well. It can be mixed with flavourings. I have one in the fridge flavoured with Irish whiskey. I have also eaten cheddar with cooked nettles, which lose their sting when boiled. The nettle leaves are gathered in Spring, diced, cooked and added to the curd. The cheese tasted very good.