World Cheese Awards head for Portugal

THE World Cheese Awards, now in the 36th year, will take place in Portugal for the first time. The 2024 awards will be held in Viseu, from 14th to 17th November. The awards open for entries on Thursday 13th June, and close on Monday 16th September.

John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, which organises the world’s leading cheese competition, says: “We’re excited to be taking the World Cheese Awards to a new host country. Located in the heart of the Dão wine region, Viseu has a rich food and drink culture making it a fitting location for Portugal’s inaugural World Cheese Awards. The event brings together the global cheese trade and is unique in promoting international relations in the dairy industry. It will, once again, bring together the most important international cheese experts and the world’s best cheeses.”

Bruno Filipe Costa, speciality food expert and the inspiration behind bringing the awards to Portugal, says: “Viseu is the capital city of the Beira region, a region with a strong cheese heritage. Located in the heart of Portugal, the region has an enviable food and drink culture combining tradition and excellence. The terroir and cheese-making history here is illustrated by our most famous cheese, Queijo Serra da Estrela, a raw sheep’s milk cheese, coagulated with thistle rennet.”

The World Cheese Awards are the largest ‘cheese only’ event of its kind. Last year, the competition held in Trondheim, Norway saw a record-breaking 4,502 cheeses arrive from around the world by boat, truck, train and plane. A judging team, made up of 264 technical experts, graders, buyers, retailers and food writers, tasted and reviewed all the cheeses in just one day. A super jury of 16 judges then came together to judge the World Champion Cheese.

Working in teams of two or three, the judges identify any cheeses worthy of a gold, silver or bronze award. They look at the rind and the body of the cheese, its colour, texture, consistency and, most importantly, its taste. Each team then nominates one exceptional cheese as the Super Gold from their table. These exceptional cheeses go on to be judged a second time by the 16-strong super jury, who each select one cheese to champion in the final round of judging. The 16 experts, representing all four corners of the globe, then debate the final cheeses in front of a live consumer and trade audience, before choosing the World Champion Cheese live on WCA TV, with cheese lovers and enthusiasts from around the world tuning in to watch the event unfold. As well as the bronze, silver, gold and Super Gold prizes, there are country and cheese specific trophies.