The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat Fontina. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.

fontina cheese

What Fontina etiquette is

Fontina etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat Fontina. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow Fontina etiquette to serve it to your guests appropriately.

If you are a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy it.

What you should know about Fontina

Fontina is a semi-soft cheese from Italy. It is a typical product of the Aosta Valley region.

Fontina is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. Its rind can range from brown to orange in color. While the interior is pale yellow with small holes that develop during the aging process. 

Its flavor is rich and medium sharp. The smell can be pungent. Younger Fontina tends to have a milder taste. While aged varieties have a richer and more complex aroma. 

How To Serve And Eat Fontina. The Top Etiquette Tips.
Best way to serve Fontina. How to cook it. Fontina wine and food pairings.

Etiquette tips to serve and eat Fontina

1) How to store Fontina

Store Fontina in the fridge. Unopened, it can last for 1 or 2 months.

After opening it, wrap it in plastic or in aluminum foil. Keep any surface of the cheese protected from the air. Ideally, place the cheese in a sealed container too. This will prevent it from absorbing the aroma of other cheeses or foods. Properly stored, Fontina can last up to 1 or 2 weeks.

In the freezer, Fontina can last for about 3 months. However, freezing affects the taste and texture of the cheese. Thus, freeze Fontina only if you plan to use it for cooking. 

Store dishes with cooked Fontina in the fridge. They can last for up to 2 to 4 days. 

2) How to clean Fontina

You do not need to wash Fontina.

If you notice mold on its surface, slice it and discard the slice that has gone bad. 

3) How to cook Fontina

Fontina cheese melts very well. It is a common cheese in fondue or similar dishes.

You can add Fontina to many baked recipes. Such as savory pies, flans, or soufflés.   

Melt it on top of burgers, red meat, or cooked vegetables. Such as baked potatoes, zucchini, or tomatoes. It is not common with pasta. However, it can go well in risotto or on top of pizza.

Fontina is a popular ingredient for sandwiches too. It is not common in salads, due to its semi-soft texture.

4) How to serve & present Fontina

Serve Fontina in large slices. Present it with a serving knife to slice it. Alternatively, you can serve it in smaller slices. Do not remove the rind before serving.

Fontina is best served in a cheese course. After the meal and before the dessert. It is great on a cheese platter. 

It can be served as an appetizer too. Accompany it with charcuterie, and bread or crackers.

Serve Fontina at room temperature. Take it out of the fridge between 30 minutes and 1 hour before serving. 

5) Food and wine to pair Fontina with

You can pair Fontina with charcuterie, such as salami, prosciutto crudo, prosciutto cotto, or speck. It goes well with eggs, red meat, or roasted poultry. Avoid pairing it with fish or seafood.

It is one of the best cheeses to pair with truffles.

Fontina pairs well with fresh and dry fruits. Fresh pears or grapes. Dry figs, dates, or raisins. 

The best red wines to pair Fontina with are Nebbiolo, Barbera, Chianti, Montepulciano, or Cabernet Sauvignon. The best white wine pairings are with Chardonnay or Riesling. Fontina pairs well with sparkling Franciacorta, or fortified wines such as Port or Sherry.

6) How to eat Fontina

The rind or skin is edible. You can eat it or discard it. It is best to eat the rind of younger, higher-quality Fontina. Aged Fontina might have a harder rind, which you should discard. 

Use a knife to slice one bite-sized piece. Then, use a fork to bring it to your mouth. Alternatively, place it on a piece of bread or a cracker. Avoid using your fingers due to the relatively soft texture and pungent smell.

fontina etiquette mistakes

Fontina etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst Fontina etiquette mistakes. 

  • 9/10. Serving spoiled Fontina.
  • 7/10. Pairing Fontina with fish or seafood.
  • 5/10. Eating Fontina with your fingers.

Additional information for properly serving Fontina

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

The calories in Fontina cheese can vary depending on the aging time and production method. On average, Fontina contains 389 calories per 100 grams. A single serving is a slice of about 25 grams, which contains 97 calories.

How to buy the best Fontina

A crucial factor in Fontina etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.

Season and availability 

Fontina is available all year round. 

Choose the best

The best Fontina comes from the Aosta Valley. It must have a DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) seal on its packaging. The seal guarantees that the cheesemaker complied with all the necessary quality requirements. Younger Fontina tends to have a more delicate flavor. 

Other countries make their own varieties of similar cheese. Some of them are of high quality. However, they tend to be varieties with a less rich and complex aroma.

Alternatives to Fontina

Valid substitutes include Gruyère, Emmental, or Gouda. For sandwiches, you can consider even some varieties of Provolone.