|Country of origin||England|
|Region||Wensleydale, North Yorkshire|
|Source of milk||Cows (formerly ewes)|
|Aging time||3–6 months|
|Certification||PGI 2013 (Yorkshire Wensleydale)|
|Related media on Wikimedia Commons|
Wensleydale is a style of cheese originally produced in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, England, but now mostly made in large commercial creameries throughout the United Kingdom. The term "Yorkshire Wensleydale" can only be used for cheese that is made in Wensleydale.
Flavour and texture
Common flavour combinations
The flavour of Wensleydale is suited to combination with sweeter produce, such as fruit like sweet apples. A popular combination available in many restaurants and delicatessens is cranberry Wensleydale, which contains cranberries in the cheese.
Wensleydale cheese was first made by French Cistercian monks from the Roquefort region, who had settled in Wensleydale. They built a monastery at Fors, but some years later the monks moved to Jervaulx in Lower Wensleydale. They brought with them a recipe for making cheese from sheep's milk. During the 14th century cows' milk began to be used instead, and the character of the cheese began to change. A little ewes' milk was still mixed in since it gave a more open texture, and allowed the development of the blue mould. At that time, Wensleydale was almost always blue with the white variety almost unknown. Nowadays, the opposite is true, with blue Wensleydale rarely seen. When the monastery was dissolved in 1540, the local farmers continued making the cheese until the Second World War, during which most milk in the country was used for the making of "Government Cheddar". Even after rationing ceased in 1954, cheese making did not return to pre-war levels.
The first creamery to produce Wensleydale commercially was established in 1897 in the town of Hawes. Wensleydale Dairy Products, who bought the Wensleydale Creamery in 1992, sought to protect the name Yorkshire Wensleydale under an EU regulation; PGI status was awarded in 2013.
References in culture
Wensleydale was one of the cheeses named by John Cleese in the Monty Python sketch "The Cheese Shop", which originally appeared in a 1972 episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. In addition, the shop owner, played by Michael Palin, was named 'Henry Wensleydale', which caused some confusion between the two when the cheese was mentioned.
In the 1990s, sales of Wensleydale cheese had fallen so low that production in the last dairy in Wensleydale itself was at risk of being suspended. The popular Wallace and Gromit animated shorts A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, and A Close Shave had the main character Wallace, a cheese connoisseur, mention Wensleydale as a particularly favourite cheese. Animator Nick Park chose it solely because it had a good name that would be interesting to animate the lip sync to rather than due to its origins in northern England where the shorts were set. He was also unaware of the financial difficulties that the company was experiencing. The company contacted Aardman Animations about a licence for a special brand of "Wallace and Gromit Wensleydale", which proved to be an enormous success. When the 2005 full-length Wallace and Gromit film, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, was released, sales of Wensleydale cheeses increased by 23%.
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I fancy Stilton is the best cheese of its type in the world, with Wensleydale not far behind.
- Hornblower and the Hotspur, (ch. 9)
- Cheese Shop Sketch, Monty Python (1972)
- Waites, Mike (17 June 2006). "Wensleydale is big cheese in world awards". Yorkshire Post. Archived from the original on 26 November 2015. Retrieved 31 July 2008.
In 1992 the 100-year-old creamery was in danger of closing, along with the threat that virtually all Wensleydale Cheese production would move out of its traditional home
- "A Grand Day Out (1989)—Trivia". uk.imdb.com. Retrieved 31 July 2008.
- Krumbach, Elizabeth. "Wensleydale". www.wallaceandgromit.com. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
- Reardanz, Karen (15 November 2005). "Wallace & Gromit Boost Cheese Sales". SFgate.com. Retrieved 3 July 2008.
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