Pat McCarthy, owner of DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine, offers his tips on tiptoeing into the cheese world.
Tip 1: When in doubt, start soft. Soft cheeses are younger and tend to be more mild. Mid-soft cheeses are older and more flavorful. Firm cheeses tend to pack the bigger punch.
Tip 2: Try a cheese from each animal. McCarthy recommends trying cheese from cows, goats and sheep (and even yaks and buffalo) to get a sense of which variety you prefer.
Tip 3: Then, try the major varieties. Give blue cheese a shot before declaring you hate it. Also try gouda, gruyere, Camembert. Give gorgonzola a whirl.
Karen Gaudette, Seattle Times food staff; photos by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times