Let’s be clear: The most important trend for 2019 (and always) is eating delicious cheese, whenever and however you darn well please.

But if you’re craving cheesy inspiration for the year ahead, we’re here for you. Behold, the eight biggest cheese trends of 2019.

Hot Cheese

The hottest cheese trend of 2019? Hot, melty cheese! You’ve seen the raclette videos on social media. Now it’s time to take the melt one step further. Look for khachapuri, the Georgian bread boat filled with melted cheese, at Georgian restaurants and recipe blogs. And have you tried aligot, the dreamy, cheesy potatoes from central France?

NYC is home to several stellar Georgian restaurants. If you can’t find khachapuri or aligot near you, why not make your own hot cheesy goodness? The new book “Melt, Stretch, & Sizzle” will get you there in no time.

Clothbound Cheddars

Cheddar isn’t just the orange stuff that you melt on nachos, friends! A major cheese trend to look for in 2019 is clothbounds, the big guns of the cheddar family.

Clothbound cheddars are made in a slower, more traditional way, and their cloth rind allows the wheels to age for longer, gaining complexity as they go. U.K. versions like Mrs. Quicke’s, Montgomery’s, or Isle of Mull are beefier and more horseradishy, whereas America-made Shelburne Farms Clothbound, Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped, or Flory’s Truckle tend to be more nutty and chicken brothy. The cloth rind is usually adhered to the cheese with a bit of butter or lard; Caputo’s, a label from Utah, uses duck fat on its clothbound.

Credit: store.shelburnefarms.org

Marinated Fresh Cheese

Not only does marinated cheese look gorgeous in a colorful bowl on your cheese plate, it also offers zippy freshness that will delight even your pickiest guests. Aussies have been enjoying marinated feta for years — and, luckily, their incredible Meredith Dairy Feta is available stateside.

There are excellent American-made versions as well. California’s iconic goat cheese maker Laura Chenel has a line of Marinated Cabecou, including spicy and truffled options. The new Chevoo, also out of California, has a lovely lineup including dill pollen and garlic, Urfa chili and lemon, and, yes, an Italian black truffle flavor as well. Or, you can choose your own combinations when you make it yourself at home!

Credit: shop.cowgirlcreamery.com

I Can’t Believe it’s Brie

In the U.S., we’re used to Brie and Brie-style cheeses tasting like butter and white mushrooms. But what about broccoli and garlic? Or mustard and sautéed wild mushrooms?

There’s nothing wrong with your basic buttery Brie, but trends are moving toward French preferences for bloomy rind cheeses with more personality. Look for Brie Fermier from Ferme de Jouvence, Harbison from Jasper Hill, or Weybridge from Scholten Farm. Serve with charcuterie and crusty bread and never look back.

And if any of your friends question your new, funkier choices, just give them a withering look and say, “This is how the French prefer their Brie.”

Gruyère and Her Sisters

We all know and love Gruyère, but why stop there? Gruyère is just one of what cheese people call “Alpine Style” cheeses, which have firm rinds, smooth pastes, and signature nuttiness. Impress your cheesemonger and delight your palate by trying one of Gruyère’s cooler cousins. Better still, they all melt like a dream.

Comté is a balanced and classic French cheese made in the Jura. L’Etivaz is only made in the summertime in Switzerland, when cows can feast upon mountain pastures, resulting in a beautiful and bonkers array of flavors. The fruity and stunning Pleasant Ridge Reserve is made in Wisconsin and is the most-award-winning cheese in American history.

Credit: uplandscheese.com

Gjetost

Pronounced: “Yeh-Toast”
Flavors: Caramel, butterscotch, and more caramel
Eat: Right now, and forevermore.

Rather than throwing out the leftover whey from cheesemaking, those genius Norwegians reduce it down until it becomes this wonderful sticky treat. Gjetost, which just means “goat cheese,” is in the “brunost” or “brown cheese” family, which is typically served in thin slices at breakfast with coffee, or during the December holidays with spiced fruit cake. We like it on a brunch cheese board, especially paired with apple slices.

If you’re still not convinced, you should probably know that the inventor of modern-day gjetost won the Norwegian Medal of Honor for her creation. Yeah. It’s that good.

Credit: murrayscheese.com

Unconventional Pairings

We’re never going to tell you that pairing cheese with your favorite wine and some water crackers is wrong. But some pairings that you may have thought were frowned upon are not only right, but real trendy right now.

Why not use chocolate as a cracker for your aged gouda instead of boring old baked grains? Potato chips are surprisingly wonderful to dip into your favorite gooey cheese, and gummy peach rings go weirdly well with fresh chèvre. Use your imagination!

Butter is the Best Cheese

O.K., so this one isn’t technically cheese, but while you’re serving your handpicked cheeses and fresh baguette, why not up your dairy game with some cultured butter? By “cultured,” we mean butter with cheese cultures added, which lend a light zip and beautiful layered richness. Look for anything from Ploughgate, Vermont Creamery, or the classic Rodolphe le Meunier.

Warning: Once you’ve tried butters like these, you’ll never go back to your old spread.

Credit: formaggiokitchen.com