Like all mountainfolk, the Swiss protect their secrets.
Just what gives Appenzeller its distinctive, sweet-and-sour tang? It took centuries before cheesemakers in the eastern canton of Appenzell would divulge their rind-washing formula of herbs, pepper, wine, and saltwater.
It’s easy to understand their reticence.
It’s a tricky thing for a hard mountain cheese to stand out, but Appenzeller manages. On its own or with grapes, lettuce, or nuts, its fruity taste lingers awhile on your tongue, at once familiar yet surprising. In a traditional fondue, it blends perfectly with Gruyère and Emmental.
PAIRINGS: Both Emmental and Appenzeller are at home in a delicatessen, and can be paired with most vegetables and meats, and lager beers or crisp white wines. In wine, look for semi-dry Austrian whites, or ones from Italy’s Alto Adige and Friuli.