Aroma wheel for hard and semi-hard cheese


Fresh milk, creamy, fruity, spicy, flowery?

It’s almost as if our language doesn’t contain enough terms to describe the virtually infinite variety of smells and tastes found in Swiss cheeses.

First published in 1997, the aroma wheel for hard and semi-hard cheese is the result of a cooperation among cheese sensory researchers working within the framework of a European research program (AIRCT94-2039). The wheel presented here is a slightly modified version of the original wheel.

The purpose remains the same – to provide an appropriate language for the objective description of odour and aroma of hard and semi-hard cheeses. The aroma wheel is made up of three distinct levels. The first one is constituted of eight families: lactic, vegetable, floral, fruity, brown, animal, spicy and others. In the second level sub-families such as fresh lactic, heated lactic and acidified lactic are presented. The third level consists of seventy-one specific descriptors used to characterize odour and aroma notes of semi-hard and hard cheeses.

Each descriptor is defined with a naturally occurring reference material. The allocation of a reference to a descriptor is intended as far as possible to standardise the use of the descriptor, and to prevent the description from being ambiguous. Furthermore, the references serve to train the panellists to recognise individual olfactory notes.