Finding the cheese of your dreams is not always an easy task with the endless options at restaurants and markets. After traveling to San Francisco and eating at Mission Cheese, I discovered some of the basic components that make up cheese.

With the guide below, your struggles to find your favorite flavors and types of cheese when shopping will vanish. Here's what to keep in mind when searching for your cheese-soulmate:

1. Milk Type

beer, coffee, pizza
Kaitlin Wheeler

Knowledge is power so becoming familiar with the tastes of different animal milk cheeses is key here. The type of animal milk that the cheese is made with — commonly made with goat, cow, or sheep's milk — determines many factors in the way the cheese will taste.

Typically, goat cheese is much creamier than cheese that comes from a cow. By making sure to take note of the animal that produced your cheese, you will be one step closer to finding the perfect cheese for you. 

2. Texture

cheese, dairy product, milk, dairy, wine
Kaitlin Wheeler

If you're someone who avoids oysters or tofu for the texture, listen up. Texture is everything when it comes to cheese — and there is a large range to choose from. Whether soft, semi-soft, or firm, the texture is often a main determinant of whether you will enjoy the cheese or not. In my case, I usually purchase harder cheeses because I find this texture more enjoyable (and tastier).

3. Origin

cheese, sushi
Kaitlin Wheeler

You should always note where your cheese comes from. Factors of where the cheese was made (soil, season, weather, etc.) can play a key determinant in the flavor of the cheese. Knowing a little background about your cheese of choice will not only impress your friends at your next wine and cheese night, but help you navigate the grocery aisle the next time you're surrounded by cheeses from all over the world.

4. Flavor

Kaitlin Wheeler

A single piece of cheese can have a wide array of flavors and usually certain flavors are paired alongside other flavors. Record these descriptions on a scale of 1 to 10: salty, buttery, stinky, nutty, earthy, grassy, sharp, sweet, milky, and moldy. Notice the strength of the flavors in your cheese to find which are most satisfying to you.

5. Pairings

sushi, coffee
Kaitlin Wheeler

Now with a detailed description of your cheese, it is much easier to decide on what goes best with the cheese of your choice. An earthy, rustic cheese often pairs well with beer, while a buttery and mild cheese dines nicely with red wine.

Depending on your drink preference, your list of favorite cheese may change. With your notes on the cheese though, it is much easier to imagine what would go well with the flavors. 

6. Star Rating

cheese, milk, dairy product, dairy, wine, brie, cheddar
Kaitlin Wheeler

A solid star rating from 1 to 5 is very important before you eat the last bite of cheese. This will determine where it falls into your dream cheese scale. As you eat more and more cheese, a pattern of cheese qualities that you enjoy will start to develop. 

Now, when you are in a rush at the store frantically looking for a desirable cheese, your own personalized list will help you hone down your choices into finding your dream cheese. Yours days of getting lost in the cheese aisle are officially over.