Parmesan cheese reviews

You don't have to go to a deli to get good parmesan.
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  • Updated:28 Jun 2007


What to buy

From delis (cut from the wheel, so no photo available)

  • ZANETTI Parmigiano Reggiano - $25/kg
  • AURICCHIO Parmigiano Reggiano - $39/kg

From supermarkets (prepacked)

  • SOUTH CAPE Grana Padano - $32.45/kg

We couldn’t test every small brand stocked in delis around the country, though. So while our What to buy list makes a good starting point, we’d encourage you to get out there and try other parmesans on offer. See Buying parmesan, for tips.

The cost of convenience

  • Our experts tasted two brands of shaved parmesan sold nationally in supermarkets.
  • MIL LEL beat the ‘rubbery’, ‘yellow’, ‘cheddar-like’ PERFECT ITALIANO, but neither scored well and MIL LELwas still criticised for being ‘chewy’ and ‘bland’.
  • Shaved parmesan has more surface area and dries out quickly once exposed to the air. So if you want good flavour and texture you’re better off shaving it fresh from the block - a vegie peeler will do the trick.

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Results table

    Ratings Details
Brand / product (in rank order) Place of purchase Score Tasters’ comments Origin Price / kg
Zanetti Parmigiano Reggiano Deli 17 Good aroma, sweet, some fruitiness, dry, good grainy structure, lactate crystals showing; salty Italy 25.00
Auricchio Parmigiano Reggiano Deli 16 Sweet, texture is dry, crumbly, occasional crunch, good presentation; very slightly short flavour Italy 39.00
South Cape Grana Padano Supermarket 16 Sweet, nutty, pleasant aftertaste, typical appearance; lacking full character Italy 32.45
Rocca Grana Padano Deli 15.5 Faint sweetness and fruitiness, some large crystals, good presentation; some openness Italy 29.95
Auricchio Grana Padano Deli 15 Good sweetness, some flavour complexity, caramel, good closed body, typical appearance Italy 27.00
Biemme Parmigiano Reggiano Deli 15 Fruity aroma and flavour, some nuttiness, good texture Italy 69.95
Auricchio Grana Padano Supermarket 14.5 Some sweetness but little overall balance, texture good inside; plasticky surface Italy 42.60
Pieffe Parmigiano Reggiano Deli 14.5 Good fruity flavour, sharpish lipase, flaky body, good granular texture, lots of lactate spotting, dark colour Italy 45.95
Rocca Parmigiano Reggiano Deli 14.5 Flaky, crumbles well, large spots of calcium lactate; atypical flavour Italy 69.50
South Cape Parmigiano Reggiano Supermarket 14.5 Slight caramel, fruity aroma, some nuttiness, good closed body, honey colour Italy 49.95
Zanetti Grana Padano Deli 14.5 Good presentation; slightly bitter, slightly gritty Italy 15.00
Mil Lel Extra Aged Parmesan Supermarket 14 Sweet aroma, slightly fruity, lacks some parmesan character but not bad; slightly open texture Australia 25.00
Mil Lel Parmesan Supermarket 14 Sweet flavour; lacking parmesan character, buttery, cheddar-like appearance Australia 17.80
Mil Lel Superior Real Australian Grana Parmesan Supermarket 14 Sweet; slightly buttery, high fat, open body, some free whey, very orange Australia 28.00
Wattle Valley Grana Padano Supermarket 14 Slightly nutty aroma, good flaky texture; slightly bitter, unbalanced at the end Italy 31.90
Zanetti Grana Padano Supermarket 14 Lacks sweetness and full balance, not complex, slightly open body, glossy appearance Italy 28.00
Auricchio Parmigiano Reggiano Supermarket 13 Dry; earthy barnyard aroma, very atypical, oxidised flavour, rind is oily Italy 50.05
Emilgrana Grana Padano Supermarket (Aldi) 13 Lacks flavour development, salty finish, slightly gritty, too pale Italy 22.00
Pieffe Grana Padano Deli 13 Good closed body; lacking flavour, doesn’t look like aged cheese Italy 29.95
Virgilio Grana Padano Supermarket 13 Bitter, very slightly sandy mouthfeel, smooth waxy finish Italy 35.85
Wattle Valley Parmigiano Reggiano Supermarket 13 Good grainy texture; poorly balanced flavour, slightly rancid aroma, slightly grey appearance Italy 43.90
Delre Parmesan Authentically Italian Supermarket 12.5 Lacks flavour, rubbery, quite dark, cheddar-type appearance Italy 29.70
Perfect Italiano Extra Sharp Parmesan Supermarket 12.5 One-dimensional flavour, overly salty, looks like plastic cheese Australia 21.95
Zanetti Parmigiano Reggiano Supermarket 12.5 Fruity/fermented flavour, slightly gritty, shiny due to packing Italy 34.00
Pantalica Parmesan Cheese Italian Style Supermarket 11 Lacking parmesan flavour, slight rancidity, high moisture, very yellow, looks a lot like a ‘fake’ toy cheese Australia 20.00
Perfect Italiano Parmesan Supermarket 10 Lacking parmesan flavour, chewy, waxy, rubbery, very yellow, looks like a wedge of processed cheddar Australia 17.15
South Cape Australian Parmesan Supermarket 9.5 Unbalanced, excess lipase, wet open texture — wouldn’t grate well, doesn’t look like a parmesan Australia 25.80

Table notes

Place of purchase. The parmesans we bought from supermarkets were all prepacked. The remaining parmesans are widely available in delis, providores and upmarket department stores and were cut from the wheel at the time of purchase. All cheese was purchased within one week of the tasting and stored in identical conditions.

Score. The experts tasted the cheeses (without knowing the brands) and agreed on a score, following a 20-point system similar to that used in judging cheese shows. The panel also commented on the flavour and aroma, texture and appearance of each cheese, and the tasters’ comments in the table are compiled from what they said.

Tasters’ comments. See Jargon buster, for an explanation of cheese vocabulary.

Price. This is what we paid in March 2007. Use it as a guide only, as the price of cheese, in delis in particular, can vary considerably.