If you pine for a smooth, bold blue, The Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue Cheese is your answer. This artisan pick has a dense, velvety texture and seductive, salty tang that won’t overwhelm sensitive palates. Try it with a Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Port. (For more on wines, read Wine 101.)
To buy: $20 to $28 for one pound, at cheese shops and select supermarkets.
2 of 7 Cypress Grove
Cypress Grove Chevre Purple Haze
Cypress Grove Chevre Purple Haze marries the sweet, light taste of lavender buds and wild fennel pollen with the natural acidity of goat cheese. The results are thoroughly addictive. Try it with a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
Elevate a simple water cracker or baguette with Quickes Traditional Mature Cheddar. Made in England with cow’s milk, this buttery cheese is earthy, tangy, and slightly sweet. Try it with a Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.
To buy: $18 to $22 for one pound, at cheese shops, select supermarkets, and igourmet.com.
4 of 7 Fromager d’Affinois
A French favorite, ultra-creamy Fromager d’Affinois is commonly mistaken for Brie because of its white rind and soft filling. The difference? This decadent double-cream has a sweeter flavor and richer, silkier texture. Try it with a Pinot Noir or Tempranillo. (To find the perfect wine to pair with your dinner, see the Food and Wine Pairing Guide.)
To buy: $16 to $18 for one pound, at cheese shops, select supermarkets, and murrayscheese.com.
5 of 7 Van der Sterre
Van der Sterre Prima Donna Maturo
Aged for 12 months, Van der Sterre Prima Donna Maturo tastes similar to Gouda but is lower in fat and made with semi-skinned milk. Delicious on a cheese board at a party or as an afternoon snack, it has a sweet flavor (reminiscent of butterscotch), and a nutty, salty aftertaste. Try it with a Merlot, Cabernet, or beer.
To buy: $13 to $22.60 for one pound, at cheese shops, gourmet markets, and winepavilion.com.
6 of 7 L’Explorateur
Named in honor of the first United States satellite, L’Explorateur is a soft-ripened triple-cream cheese with a tasty, mushroomy white rind and rich, buttery interior. Its delicate aroma and salty taste make it a true crowd-pleaser. Try it with a dry sparkling wine or Pinot Noir.
To buy: $12.75 to $17.80 for 8.8 ounces, at cheese shops, select supermarkets, and gourmetfoodstore.com.
7 of 7 Epoisses
Known as the “King of Cheeses,” Époisses has a strong smell that is not for the faint of heart―but it’s worth a second look. This cow’s milk variety has a burnt orange rind that comes from being washed with Marc de Bourgogne, a signature wine of Burgundy, France, where it is often made. The lush, oozy interior is earthy, pungent, and slightly zesty. A great conclusion to a special meal. Try it with a Chardonnay or Syrah.
To buy: $20 to $29.50 for 8.8 ounces, at cheese shops, select supermarkets, and shop.com.
Want something to go with your cheese? Check out The Best Crackers . And go to Cheese 101 for a primer on varieties and tips on how to store cheese.