First thing, the type of milk used, cow, sheep or goat, the feed given to the animal. How long the cheese was aged. The salt and the specific mold strain.
When storing cheese, it is crucial to keep it tightly wrapped. Air will dry it out. If the cheese has a rind like Parmesan or Brie, make sure to leave the rind on the cheese as this will give it protection.
Make sure to allow the cheese to come to room temperature before serving. The flavor is muted by the cold.
There is a vast variety of cheese worldwide, so it’s not possible to list all of them in this post. Here is a short list of some of the popular cheeses.
Asiago: A firm cow’s milk from Italy. Salty and tangy in flavor. Aged Asiago is best for grating over pasta and soup.
Brie: A popular soft cow’s milk from France. Creamy and slight mushroom flavor. With the rind removed, great melting cheese.
Cheddar: Cow’s milk cheese made in USA or Great Britain. American versions usually softer in texture, with a tangy sharpness. British cheddars are drier and even crumbly with a nutty sharpness flavor. Great to eat by itself.
Colby: A semi soft cow’s milk cheese from the USA. Very mild in flavor. One of few cheese with true American roots.
Feta: Fresh cheese made from cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk. Feta is produced in many Mediterranean countries. It can be dry, crumbly, soft and creamy. Flavors range from salty, mild to tangy. Great for salads and with vegetables.
Goat Cheese: Produced in many countries and in several forms. Goat cheeses range from creamy fresh cheese with a mild tanginess to aged cheeses that are firm, dry and pungent.
Gouda: The cheese is named after the city Gouda in the Netherlands. Semi firm Gouda is milk and slightly sweet. Aged Gouda is dry and crumbly with caramel flavor with a sharp zing.
Mozzarella: This popular cow’s or water buffalo’s milk cheese from Italy. Available fresh or semi soft.
Parmesan: Firm cow’s milk cheese from Italy, USA and Argentina. The real thing, Parmigiano – Reggiano, has a sweet, fruity and nutty flavor.
Source: The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Revised Edition (p.26 & 27).