Why Should Cheese Be Served At Room Temperature?

How to store and eat cheese at the proper temperature

Brie wrapped in paper
ARB/Getty Images

In the grocery store, most cheeses (unless they're vacuum packed) are kept cold in a refrigerated section, so it's logical to assume that cheese should be served cold. Cheese (like red wine) is at its best when served at room temperature.

Why Cheese Is Tastier at Room Temperature

Cheese is made from mostly fat, which provides each variety it's distinct flavor and aroma.  When fat is kept cold, its flavor, aroma, and texture change, and not for the better. Cold cheese can taste bland and its texture isn't quite right.  For example, Brie straight from the refrigerator can be rubbery and flavorless, however, Brie served at room temperature is soft, creamy, and luscious. Hard cheeses can be crumbly, bland, and taste dry in the mouth if they're too cold.

How to Warm Your Cheese

To bring cheese up to room temperature, remove it from refrigeration at least a half-hour before serving. Simply set it out on a plate or platter and let it warm up. If you have a large piece of cheese, only take out what you intend to immediately serve.

Cheese does not like multiple changes in temperature. Repeatedly bringing a wedge of cheese up to room temperature and then putting it back in the fridge can make the cheese spoil faster. If you have leftover cheese at room temperature, it's generally fine to leave it at room temperature for a day or so while you eat it.

Can Cheese be Stored at Room Temperature?

It can be tempting to store cheese on your counter or in your pantry, then eat your way through it by slicing off small pieces throughout the week. If the temperature in your house is not too warm and the cheese isn't in direct sunlight, then it's possible. However, keep in mind that flies, moths, varmints, and pets love cheese too.

A glass bell jar will keep flies and insects off your cheese, but they also trap the cheese in an airless cell, which doesn't make cheese happy. A wood storage box, which allows air in and keeps pests out, is a better option. One of the best options is a product called a cheese grotto, available from cheesegrotto.com. The grotto can be used to store both cut and whole wheels of cheese. The cheese grotto protects cheese and stores it at 75 percent humidity, with an adjustable airflow system. It can be kept on the counter or in a refrigerator.

The Best Way to Store Cheese in the Refrigerator

Strictly speaking, refrigerators are too cold and dry to store cheese for long periods of time, but unless you have your own cheese cave with a temperature between 45-60 degrees and humidity at 75 percent, using the fridge is unavoidable.

It's best to store cheese in drawer compartments, which are the warmest and moistest part of the fridge. A wedge of cheese can be stored in plastic wrap, or set on a plate and then covered with plastic wrap if the wrap is changed regularly. Wax paper usually keeps cheese fresh longer. Wrap cheese in regular wax paper, cheese paper, or specially made Formaticum cheese storage bags and then store the wrapped cheese in a drawer compartment.