Sure, you have heard of the Oscars, the Emmys, and the Grammys but did you know there are cheese competitions that honor gourmet cheese produced here in the United States and around the world? Cheese experts convene to blindly judge cheese by its appearance, aroma, taste, finish and a host of other technical merits (sounds like a dream job to me). The annual American Cheese Society competition is open only to American artisanal cheese while the World Cheese Awards pays tribute to cheese from any country. While once considered secondary to European cheese, American artisanal cheese is now more prolific and has garnered prestigious awards on the international stage.

In honor of Thanksgiving, we are celebrating the bounty of the American farm and the ingenuity of the American cheese maker. Created in small batches and crafted carefully by hand, American artisanal cheese employs traditional methods and milk from local farms enabling the cheese maker to capture the subtle nuances particular to the region. Listed below are American artisanal cheeses that have been recognized not only as some of the best in the country but among the best in the world.

Best in Show: Pleasant Ridge Reserve by Uplands Cheese Company

For the third time, this farmstead cheese was named Best in Show at the American Cheese Society competition beating out 1,400 other fine cheeses. It is hand made only in the summertime with raw milk from a single herd of pasture-fed cows in Southern Wisconsin. Like a French Alpine style hard cheese that may remind you of Gruyere, Pleasant Ridge Reserve has a delicate and nutty flavor profile.

The Americans Beat the British: Bandage Wrapped Cheddar by Fiscalini Farms

Not only has Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar won numerous awards but for the first time, an American cheddar beat the British and on their own turf at the World Cheese Awards in London. This farmstead gourmet cheese is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk in Northern California and aged for 18 months to allow for a complex and bold flavor.

Going Rogue: Smokey Blue & Crater Lake Blue by Rogue Creamery

Oregon-based Rogue Creamery dominates cheese competitions on both the domestic and international front year after year. That means these unique one-of-a-kind blue cheeses are besting traditional Gorgonzola, Stilton and Roquefort. Rogue Creamery blue cheeses are made with raw cow’s milk from local dairy farms. Smokey Blue is a Roquefort-style blue cheese that is smoked over hazelnut shells for creamy, meaty and pungent flavors. Crater Lake Blue is the perfect balance of robust, sweet and buttery richness.

Author's Bio: 

Even though her passion for gourmet cheese was undying, Sara Kahn found shopping for it to be overwhelming, time consuming and confusing. She established The Cheese Ambassador to offer a simple way to select and serve cheese. Discover the robust selection of cheese gift baskets for gift giving and gourmet cheese for home entertaining.