While often mistaken (or overlooked) for the more popular Swiss cheese, Emmental, Gruyere is its own thing, with drastically different texture and flavor qualities.
Its texture is denser and crumblier than Emmental’s, with hardly any eyes (the large holes Swiss cheese is generally known for). Young Gruyere has a comparatively smooth texture that gets drier and more granular with further maturing.
Made from pasteurized grass-fed milk from Alpine cows, Gruyere has a complex and robust flavor that strikes a nice balance between savory and sweet notes and isn’t easily overpowered. Gruyere is savory and nutty, with distinct sweet undertones. The younger Gruyere has a somewhat creamy flavor that is slowly overtaken by nuttiness and sweetness the more it ages.
Its versatility and great melting qualities have made Gruyere cheese a go-to choice for many traditional dishes of Swiss and French cuisine, like cheese fondue, quiches, and savory tarts, hot sandwiches like Croque Monsieur, as well as a popular addition to a charcuterie board.
Gruyere has been granted Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP), the equivalent of the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), meaning it can only be produced in certain areas and must adhere to strict quality control.