WHAT IS GOUDA?
This waxed Dutch cheese can be consumed from 1 month to 5 years old. It is almost always made from pasteurized cow’s milk and cooked curds. The traditional raw milk version is still made but under a different cheese (boerenkaas). Gouda is classified by age. The first of the 7 stages is Graskaas (young), passing through Belegen (teenage) before ending up with Overjarig (senior citizen gouda).
WHERE IS GOUDA MADE?
While it might’ve started as a farmhouse cheese somewhere in the Netherlands, Gouda today is an industrial product. The cheese is named after the city where it is traded. The cheese is not officially designated, so Goudas are made all over the world in a variety of milks and flavors. Where the very young gouda that you bought came from is almost entirely a function of its’ price (cheapest wins). But with aged ones, the Dutch are still the masters of affinage.
WAR ZONES MAKE CHEESE TOO?
In the war zone of the African Congo, Masisi Gouda (a milder version of the Dutch original) is sold throughout the land. Friesländer cows left over from Belgium colonial rule are being milked in the “Switzerland of Africa”. This cheese is one-way struggling Maisi Mountain farmers are rebuilding their livelihoods. Check out this article for more:
WHAT CAN I PAIR WITH GOUDA?
The age of the kaas (cheese) has a large impact on what you are pairing it with. A very young gouda doesn’t have much flavor to it. So you really need to treat a very young and an aged one as two different cheeses. For cheeses that do not have additives (wasabi, etc) and are young you can get away with Rieslings or a variety of mild reds. But with an aged gouda (where salt crystals have formed), a robust Chardonnay or tannic Cabernet Sauvignon is needed. They balance out the stronger flavor and saltiness of the cheese. For cheese plates I’d stay away from a cheese flight by country and instead focus on an international range of cheeses like a nice Parmesan Reggiano and a 2 year old Comte (for an aged cow’s milk cheese plate).