The Charted Cheese Wheel

Never knew the difference between Gorgonzola and Rocquefort? The Charted Cheese Wheel is your answer.

The Charted Cheese Wheel

The latest from Pop Chart Lab, the cheese wheel maps 66 of the world’s best cheeses in one very gooey, crumbly infographic.

The Charted Cheese Wheel

The wheel is divided, first, by the kind of animal milk used to make it: cow, sheep, goat, and, in preciously few cases, buffalo.

The Charted Cheese Wheel

The second fact is a cheese’s texture, which can vary from hard and semi-hard to soft and semi-soft.

The Charted Cheese Wheel

“There was a natural cutting off point where once we went over the cheeses found in our research really represented artisanal and not widely distributed varieties,” Pop Chart Lab tells Co.Design.

The Charted Cheese Wheel

The great variety of cheeses is indicated by the wheel’s many orange, yellow, and beige hues.

The Charted Cheese Wheel

The names, like Idaho Toadster and Stinking Bishop, can be equally as colorful.

The Charted Cheese Wheel

In the name of good research, the designers tried each of the 66 cheeses.

The Charted Cheese Wheel

They’re really split between feta and manchego.

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Infographic: How To Tell The Difference Between 66 Varieties Of Cheese

Stilton or Roquefort? This chart’s got you covered.

With age and maturity must necessarily come more discerning tastes. Sooner or later, you’ll have to graduate from beer to wine, from Shining-Kubrick to Barry Lyndon-Kubrick, from Safran Foer to anyone else. And, of course, from cheddar to Stilton. Or Stinking Bishop. Or Garroxta. The Charted Cheese Wheel will help you make the jump from the yellow and mild commodity stuff to pungent artisanal and farmstead cheeses.

The just-released print from Pop Chart Lab indexes the vast, globe-spanning topography of cheese. The graphic collects 66 different varieties (and shades) in one very gooey, crumbly, moldy wheel.

The chart, which the designers call a "cornucopia of cheese," is broken down according to two basic criteria: the animal of provenance and level of hardness that form a fromage’s taste and texture. A little less than three-fourths of the featured cheeses are made using cow milk, while goat and sheep together account for slightly over a quarter of the bunch. (The remaining sliver is made up of two select Buffalo cheeses.) Each type comprises four subcategories of firmness, with each example described as hard, semi-hard, semi-soft, and finally, soft.

"There was a natural cutting off point where once we went over the cheeses found in our research really represented artisanal and not widely distributed varieties," Pop Chart Lab tells Co.Design. Still, the decision to limit the chart to the 66 and not, say, 100 cheeses sprung from aesthetic considerations: "We knew our wheel would be 18-inches in diameter with ¾-in given to each cheese to truly capture the texture and variety. We then broke it down to determine how many would fit in the overall wheel."

The gloriously cheesy spectrum encompasses every hue of orange, yellow, and beige you can imagine. The nomenclature is equally variegated: from Pantysgawn to Humboldt Fog, Val D’aosta to Idaho Goatster, you’ll be hard-pressed to remember them all. Nothing a little testing can’t fix: as per every one of Pop Chart Lab’s projects, the designers spent much time and research doing some field testing. They tasted every one of the cheeses and dutifully took notes on their textures and flavor profiles. (They’re torn between feta and manchego.) They even rubbed shoulders with some of the cheese artisans over at Murray’s Cheese, New York’s oldest and most authoritative cheese shop. The two have struck up a month-long partnership and are raffling five $100 gift certificates, plus a free Charted Cheese Wheel print for big spenders with purchases of 100 bones or more.

So take the wheel for a spin and head to your local cheesemonger. Don’t forget the obligatory crusty baguette.

Buy a print for $22 here.

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  • Thudpucker

    There are far more variations in cheese than this graph accounts for. What it lacks in subtlety is indeed similar to the difference between Barry Lyndon and the Shining - in that Barry Lyndon relies on a cumbersome, oversimplified narration to help tell a convoluted story.

  • markov00

    Asiago is not hard is semi-hard or at least semi-soft! No way that Asiago is hard!

  • Wischeeseking

    Not true. Young Asiago is semi-hard and aged Asiago is considered a hard cheese. Muenster and Monterey Jack are semi-soft varieties, Aged Cheddar and Gruyere are semi-hard.

  • richard bubb

    No mixtures mentioned? 
    For those who ever got pizza in St Louis, MO., or who live (d) there, you may remember Provel cheese.  It's a mix of Swiss, Mozzarella, & Provolone.  Hard to find on the web, and runs about $8/pound.  Has unique properties, and Die-Hard pizza-fans (my family in St Louis) often order a Provel-Cheese only pizza. Yeah, it's that good.  I bought some online, and ate 1/2 of it already.  Incredibly soft (almost spreadable) at room temperature, yet nearly impossible cut directly from the fridge.
    Tastes So Delicious on pizza, and other uses for cheese, even grilled cheese sandwich. 

  • Eddie

    I didn't even know feta was a sheep cheese per the PDO. Can't say I've ever seen sheep feta around. Cheap feta is alwasy cow, expenstive feta is always goat. Might be just my neck of the woods.

  • karl

    Pretty, but highly inaccurate and missing some major cheeses.

    Red Leicester has been labelled as Cheddar? A decent Mature Cheddar is buttery yellow and the tiniest bit crumbly. Also no Wensleydale or Yarg mentioned.

    What do they taste like, their smell, texture, accompaniments?

    Not exactly a cheese lovers friend, this poster.

  • Adriano Farina

    Parmesan is just misnamed (or worse, fake) Parmigiano-Reggiano. They are all part of the Grana family of cheeses, like Grana Padano or TrentinGrana, but Parmigiano is undisputedly the best.

  • cassette_walkman

    What about cheese-in-a-tube? They'll need to add "petro-chemicals" to the Animals of Provenance in the center. I guess that's the gap that's been left in the graphic. Although going by what I've seen in North American supermarkets it'd need to occupy a larger chunk.

  • schneider

    fun and informative. I choose  cheese for the taste not texture or provenance shame this is lacking as a vacherin which is actually a gooey cheese is very mild is located next to a tomme which is semi hard which can be quite strong... let's roll the wheel...

  • Joerie

    Pfew, so long for the 100s (easily; half of France's cheeses already are missing. Belgium, Netherlands, the rest ...) of other cheeses that aren't in the chart... How would you classify Passendale? Maaslander; graskaas (various); nagelkaas; the difference between jonge, belegen, and oude kaas (with all variants in between)?

    Oh but still handy for anyone new to the product(s)...

  • anja

    Ricotta and Gorgonzola slammed together in one group? And no hint at the difference between a Brie and a Camembert? Also, what's a cream cheese when it grows up? *blows a raspberry and grabs a bit of Reblochon*

  • Boone Sommerfeld

    Yep, it's conformed. Pop Chart Lab pretty much gets to use Fast Co Design as an ad space.

  • al

    You can tell this is North American - why is the Cheddar glowing bright orange like it's been soaked in radioactive additives?

    I remember being very confused in Canada by the choice between "Cheese", which was rubbery, flavourless and yellow, and "Cheddar" which was rubbery, flavourless, and bright luminous orange (and 20% more expensive).

    Good cheddar ain't orange.