Staffers nibbled on 80 types (holy cow!) to find the best picks for slicing, shredding, and assembling a cheese platter.
Sartori Extra-Aged Asiago Reserve
This nutty, subtly sweet cousin of Parmesan melts quickly into an ooey-gooey consistency. Try grating it on top of baked pasta or mixing it into mashed potatoes.
To buy: $7.80 for 5.3 ounces, at grocery stores.
Mifroma Le Gruyère AOP Cavern
Made from raw cow's milk and aged 11 months, this winner has a crystalline crunch and an assertive but not too pungent flavor, making it a cheese-plate crowd-pleaser.
To buy: $14 for 7 ounces, at grocery stores.
Cabot Alpine Cheddar
In an aisle of processed options, this sharp white staple was complex enough for snacking (thanks to a hint of fruitiness) and versatile enough for cooking.
To buy: $3 for 6 ounces, at grocery stores.
Parmigiano Reggiano Aged 24 Months
If your store sells only the domestic, shrink-wrapped kind, walk on by—it tends to be moist and flavorless. Instead, splurge on this crumbly, tangy hunk, flown in from the hills of northern Italy, the next time you're at a specialty store.
To buy: $20 for 16 ounces, at gourmet grocery stores (such as Whole Foods Market).
Cache Valley Swiss Cheese Chunk
The only Swiss we tried that didn't separate when melted. Plus, this champ, marked by half-inch craters, is aged to be firm and pleasantly salty without an oily finish.
To buy: $3.40 for 8 ounces, at grocery stores.
Trader Joe's 1,000 Day Aged Gouda Cheese
Soft Goudas can be bland and smoked versions overwhelming. This pick is bold but still buttery, with fine crystals throughout.
To buy: $12 for 16 ounces, Trader Joe's.