Gouda and Edam cheeses have much in common, including the type of wine that pairs best with them.
Both originated in the Netherlands, and both are named after the cities in which they were first developed.
Gouda, or “How-da,” as the locals pronounce it, today is perhaps the most popular cheese in the world, accounting for 50 to 60 percent of total cheese consumption, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. It’s a semi-hard cheese noted for its rich, unique flavor and smooth texture.
In the city of Gouda, the original cheese market is one of the last standing commercial cheese markets in the Netherlands.
Edam is named after the city of the same name, located in the province of North Holland. It’s traditionally sold in spheres with a pale yellow interior and a coat of red paraffin wax.
Both Gouda and Edam are considered “sweet-curd” cheeses. Their manufacturing process is similar to that of semi-soft cheeses, but specific starter cultures and only the highest quality milk are used.
The primary difference between the two is that Gouda is made with whole milk, while Edam is produced with part-skim. Flavored Goudas have spices or herbs added to their curd prior to pressing.
Very early on, France was extremely vigilant about protecting the names of its wines, since they typically were tied to geography. Today, there are international agreements in place that restrict the use of the designation “Champagne” to the Champagne region of France, the use of the designation “Bordeaux” to the Bordeaux region of France, and so on.
The Dutch did not follow suit, however, and that’s why the Gouda and Edam names have been “appropriated” and now are generic. Fortunately, most cheese makers honor and emulate the traditional styles, which means that we can recommend serving an off-dry, high-acid Riesling with virtually any Gouda or Edam cheese.
And for a special treat, try Spicy Pumpkin Seed Brittle (look for a recipe here later this week) with the Gouda, Edam and Riesling.