A sensory analysis of Parmigiano Reggiano allows to establish whether a specific product has all these positive characteristics; the analysis differs from simple tasting due to a more scientific emphasis. The task of an expert taster is to evaluate the quality of Parmigiano Reggiano and its P.D.O. production specifications, in order to protect and ensure the quality of the product itself and the safety of consumers.
If you would like to make a sensory analysis of Parmigiano Reggiano, the five steps to be followed are listed below in sequence. Each step in the analysis involves perception through one of our five senses: sight, taste, smell, hearing, and touch.
The first assessment is the external appearance of the product, considering the colour of the cheese, which ranges through different intensities of straw yellow and can be more or less uniform. When evaluating the visual appearance of a product, it is important to consider both the exterior rind of the wheel, as well as the inside, in terms of temperature, humidity, roughness, elasticity, and fattiness, as well as the eyes, which are the small holes found in the cheese that should be less than 2 mm in diameter.
The second step involves tasting the Parmigiano Reggiano and evaluating the presence or absence of what is referred to as “trigeminal sensations”, that is the spicy or astringent flavour. Each area of the tongue has different sensitivity depending on the flavour perceived at the moment of tasting: for example, sweetness is perceived mainly near the tip of the tongue.
The most difficult examination regards smell, since it is difficult to perceive and recognize Parmigiano Reggiano’s so-called “range of aromas”: milky, floral, toasted, etc. Other olfactive notes analysed include shades of pepper, nutmeg, spices, etc.
The longer Parmigiano Reggiano is matured, the more marked and complex the aroma becomes.
Once again, it is not easy to perceive the fine shades to the auditory analysis, which depends on the degree of crunchiness or crumbliness of the cheese.
The tactile analysis of Parmigiano Reggiano indicates its level of maturity; generally, it looks as such parameters as elasticity, hardness, granularity, crumbliness (the ability to flake abundantly), and solubility, or the pleasing sensation of cheese melting in the mouth.