Gruyère is a hard yellow cheese, named after the town of Gruyères in Switzerland, and originated in the cantons of Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Jura, and Berne. Before 2001, when Gruyère gained Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status as a Swiss cheese, some controversy existed whether French cheeses of a similar nature could also be labeled Gruyère (French Gruyère style cheeses include Comté and Beaufort).
Gruyère is sweet but slightly salty, with a flavor that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming with age more assertive, earthy and complex. When fully aged (five months to a year) it tends to have small cracks which impart a slightly grainy texture.
Gruyère cheese is generally known as one of the finest cheeses for baking, having a distinctive but not overpowering taste. In quiche, Gruyère adds savoriness without overshadowing the other ingredients. It is a good melting cheese, particularly suited for fondues, along with Vacherin and Emmental. It is also traditionally used in French onion soup, as well as in croque-monsieur, a classic French toasted ham and cheese sandwich.Gruyère is also used in chicken and veal cordon bleu. It is a fine table cheese, and when grated, it is often used with salads and pastas. It is used, grated, atop le tourin, a type of garlic soup from France which is served on dried bread. White wines, such as Riesling, pair well with Gruyère. Sparkling apple cider and Bock beer are also beverage affinities.
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