These days, there’s an award for just about everything, and in the food world, that includes the world’s best cheese! The Guild of Fine Food held its 34th World Cheese Awards competition in Wales on November 2nd, 2022, which drew cheesemongers, consumers, and foodies from more than 40 different countries to taste and judge more than four thousand cheeses.
Judges were grouped into trios to evaluate the rind, body, color, texture, consistency, and taste of cheeses to award gold, silver, and bronze accolades to top-tier products, according to The Guild of Fine Food. Country and variety-specific trophies were distributed, but only one cheese reigned supreme. Four thousand four hundred thirty-four different varieties of cheese were whittled down to 98 “super golds,” which were then judged a second time by the Guild’s panel of 16 world-renowned super jury members, resulting in the same number of cheesy finalists.
Ultimately, a Swiss Gruyère beat out the thousands of other entries — including this year’s runner-up, Gorgonzola Dolce DOP, a blue, soft and buttery cheese crafted by De’ Magi Formaggi in Italy — as it was crowned the best cheese in the world for the fourth time.
After multiple rounds of tasting and critiquing, a surchoix (meaning “cut above,” according to Fromagination) version of Le Gruyère AOP, a hard artisanal Swiss cheese made by cheesemaker Urs Leuenberger from the Vorderfultigen mountain cheese dairy, took home this year’s title for World’s Best Cheese, per CNN.
The cheese is described as tasting of “delicate mountain flowers and wonderful alpine herbs that are typical for the region,” per Gourmino, the affineur that ages and produces the cheese. Swiss judge Christian Zuercher also described the cheese as “smooth in your mouth and melting on your tongue. You have a lot of flavor in it, from herbs to fruity, roasted, with a real leather note.” The more subtle character of the surchoix variety contained notes of stone fruit, boiled ham, chestnuts, and vanilla, per Gourmino. Le Gruyère AOP hails from the French-speaking region of Switzerland and dates back to the year 1115.
While Gruyère is a perfect snacking cheese to enjoy on its own, it’s also a great melting cheese and is often favored by chefs as a fondue base or to top off a crock of French onion soup.