You can’t cut a pizza the same way that you portion a tray of lasagna, right? The same is true of cheese. Each shape—wheels, wedges, logs, and pyramids—should be cut and portioned in a slightly different way.
Learning how to serve cheese isn’t just a matter of presentation. The way you portion it actually changes the flavor and texture of each bite. Softer cheeses such as Brie and young goat cheeses often change in texture as you move from the interior towards the exterior, and you want to get all of that delicious textural contrast on your cracker or piece of bread. Cheeses also change in flavor from edge to center. On aged cheeses, the portion closest to the rind might taste earthy, nutty, and mushroomy, while the innermost section is sweeter and milder. To get the fullest picture of the cheese and the most flavorful bite, you want to taste as much of it at once as possible.
As a general rule, try to get a bit of the center and the rind (or the section closest to the rind) with each slice.
One other word of advice: Let your cheese sit at room temperature to take the chill off. It will be more flavorful and easier to portion.
Soft Wheels and Wedges
What to Do: If you have a small wheel, start by cutting it into equal wedges. Cut the sides of the wedges, from the exterior to the point, forming skinny triangular slices.
What to Do: Cut off the end of the cheese and continue making slices perpendicular to the length of the cheese. Slices taken from the cheese’s middle section can be cut in half. When you near the end of the cheese, make your slices perpendicular to it.
Rectangles, Squares, and Blocks
What to Do: There are two ways to approach square or rectangular cheese. If it’s fairly firm and relatively uniform in texture, you can simply slice straight across it, cutting each piece in half if you’d like.
If it’s softer and you can’t get the whole cross section in a bite or two, start by cutting the cheese in half diagonally. Then cut small pieces from the sides, from the exterior to the center, working towards the middle of the triangle.