With so many dairy-based delicacies to sample, ranking the cheeses of the world is a serious task. Every year, a group of experts accepts the challenge. In 2023, the World Cheese Awards named Norway’s Nidelven Blå the No. 1 cheese on Earth, beating out 4500 entries from more than 40 countries, CNN reports.
The UK-based Guild of Fine Food launched the competition in 1988, and 35 years later it’s regarded as the Olympics of the cheesemaking world. Artisans from around the globe can submit their products for consideration by following the organizers’ strict shipping instructions. During the multi-day event, an international panel of cheese sellers, buyers, and food writers decide which country’s curd is superior through bracket-style tasting rounds.
First, judges work in teams of two or three to evaluate 40 to 50 cheeses divided across 100 tables. Each team nominates one “super gold” cheese from their table, and the big cheeses then move on to a “super jury” of 16 esteemed experts. Each expert picks their favorite fromage to champion, and the judging ends with a live debate over which cheese should take home the gold. You can watch highlights from the 2023 contest below.
This year’s World Cheese Awards were held in Trondheim, Norway, and first prize fittingly went to a Norwegian cheese. Nidelven Blå is semi-solid blue cheese described as having a “dense fudginess” and “fruity overtones” by the competition’s judges. The product is one of 292 Norwegian entries submitted for consideration, and the only Norwegian cheese to make the judges’ top 10. Other exemplary cheeses recognized by this year’s World Cheese Awards include Baliehof Houtlandse Asche Kaas of Belgium, Eberle Würzig Seit 5 Generationen of Switzerland, and Eleftheria Brunost of India.
The blue ribbon-winning blue cheese is produced by Gangstadt Gårdsysteri, a small dairy farm located about two hours outside Trondheim. You likely won’t find their cheeses at your local supermarket, but their farm store—which also sells ice cream made onsite—is open to visitors year-round.