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A Personal Cheese Cave Is a Big Flex (and Great Gift) for Cheese Fans

Our resident cheese expert reviews the highly sophisticated storage spot for your best blocks.

Pamela Vachon Contributor
Pamela is a freelance food and travel writer based in Astoria, Queens. While she writes about most things edible and potable (and accessories dedicated to those topics,) her real areas of expertise are cheese, chocolate, cooking and wine. She's a culinary school grad, certified sommelier, former bartender and fine dining captain with 10 years in the industry. When not sitting at the keys, she leads in-home cheese classes, wine tastings and cocktail demonstrations.
Expertise Wine | Cheese | Chocolate | Cooking
Pamela Vachon
6 min read
cheese-grotto.jpg
9.2

Cheese Grotto

Like

  • Allows fine cheese to mature as it would in a cave
  • Sports a cool look and solid build
  • Easy to use
  • Eco-friendly since you'll waste less and won't have to wrap cheese between use

Don't like

  • Requires a good bit of refrigerator real estate

The cheesiest jokes are often attributed to dads, but with Mother's Day just around the corner, let's not forget that moms can be pretty cheesy, too. What could be a better gift for the ultimate cheese lover in your life than their own personal cheese cave? Sort of, anyway. You don't need to consider leasing space in an actual cheese cave, natural or industrial, to provide a cheese lover with ideal, cave-like conditions in which to store their favorite curds for maximum longevity. I mentioned Cheese Grotto as an option in How You Should Actually Store Your Cheese, but I've since taken it for a test drive to see how well it functions in the everyday life of this cheese expert, educator and certified fanatic. 

cheese grotto on table

A personal cheese cave to spoil yourself and impress your foodie friends.

Cheese Grotto

What is a Cheese Grotto?

First things first, what is a grotto, if not a picturesque cave? That's what Cheese Grotto is, albeit on a much smaller, wooden scale. Cheese Grotto is the work of Jessica Sennett, a former cheesemonger at such legendary shops as Cowgirl Creamery, Formaggio Kitchen and Bedford Cheese Shop, who also dabbled in cheesemaking in France. (Which is all to say, she knows what she's doing.) 

She, therefore, developed a series of wooden boxes, dubbed "Cheese Grottos," that aimed to approximate cave-like conditions for home use, bringing a little of the farmstead environment to your kitchen.

Sennet's inspiration for Cheese Grotto was to "bridge the gap between the rural and the urban experience" of cheese, recognizing that city retail shops were a far cry from the farms and creameries where cheese is made and aged, and that her customers often expressed confusion about how to best store cheese. She, therefore, developed a series of wooden boxes, deemed Cheese Grottos, that aimed to approximate cave-like conditions for home use, bringing a little of the farmstead environment to your kitchen.

What does a Cheese Grotto do?

Cheese Grotto in fridge

The Cheese Grotto is definitely a flex and a worthy investment for serious consumers of fine cheese.

Cheese Grotto

The goal of a Cheese Grotto is to create ideal conditions for cheese so that its flavors and textures continue to evolve while still staying fresh as long as possible, drawing from "ancient cheese wisdom and contemporary technology," according to the company's materials. It's a convergence of airflow, humidity and temperature control that allows most cheeses to have the best longevity and freshest flavor. 

If you're in the habit of wrapping cheeses in plastic wrap or bags and sticking them wherever in your fridge, you're potentially failing your cheeses on all three counts. If you're wrapping them in cheese paper and sticking them in a dedicated cheese drawer in your fridge, you're doing much better already. But a Cheese Grotto is the best way to create ideal conditions on all three fronts, while still being practical and efficient for a novice cheese lover to use at home. In fact, if you're using a Cheese Grotto appropriately, it should amount to a lot less work than unwrapping and rewrapping. Plus, you get to say, "May I show you to my cheese cave?" and mean it. 

Cheese Grottos of various sizes are made from natural, breathable wood with either resin or bamboo shelving for the cheeses to sit on, with a plexiglass window in the front so you can still admire them. A clay brick is included, which is to be soaked and placed on the bottom shelf of the cheese grotto to establish and maintain the correct humidity. Cheese Grottos can be stored on the countertop at room temp so long as you intend to consume the cheese within a week. Otherwise, it's recommended to store your Cheese Grotto in the refrigerator.

Cheese Grotto Mezzo: A review

cheese grotto

A Cheese Grotto combines form and function and serves as a striking space to store good cheese.

Cheese Grotto

Right out of the box, I appreciated that my Cheese Grotto Mezzo was more or less ready to go. (The smallest Grotto, the Piatto, is designed for flatpack shipping, so some assembly is required there, but the sides attach magnetically and don't require any tools.) After 2 minutes of soaking the clay brick, the Grotto was all set to hit the fridge. I found it easy to store about three average hunks of cheese at once. 

Even the smallest model holds a full pound of cheese

The $125 Mezzo can supposedly accommodate 2 pounds of cheese, which is actually quite a bit, especially for a small household. Even the smallest model, the $85 Piatto, holds a full pound. As a die-hard cheese fanatic, I am rarely buying more than a quarter-pound of any given cheese at a time. Large, triangular pieces of hard cheeses are the easiest to Tetris on the available shelf space; if you usually keep a round, bloomy rind cheese on hand you have to get a little more creative or resign yourself to only one or two cheeses at a time. 

No need to wrap or re-wrap cheese

It may seem like a small detail, but I really enjoyed being able to pull the cheeses out and cut off a bit without unwrapping and rewrapping anything, wondering whether the cheese paper was good for another run, or needed to be replaced. Another star in the eco-friendliness category. 

hand placing cheese in storage bag

The Cheese Grotto eliminates the need to wrap your cheese between uses.

Formaticum

While I didn't bring a hygrometer to the party, you can easily tell that the humidity level in the Grotto is higher than that of the fridge itself; the clay brick adds to the humid environment, as do the unwrapped cheeses themselves once they are placed in there. While cheese paper is a responsible storage option generally, the flavor of cheeses stored in the Grotto was superior to those otherwise wrapped in paper within the fridge, which can still sometimes need a little scraping to get beyond the bit that might taste stale, or adulterated from other elements in your fridge. 

I didn't test the countertop option, mostly because I don't consume enough cheese at home to get through it in a week, but after a week of refrigerator use, I'd certainly feel comfortable doing that. I freely admit I like the European vibe of storing some cheeses out on the countertop in an attractive wooden box.

A Cheese Grotto does take up precious space on the counter or fridge

cheese grotto in fridge

If you plan to keep the Cheese Grotto in your fridge, know that it will annex a decent amount of property. 

Pamela Vachon/CNET

Really, the only thing I found challenging about my Cheese Grotto was clearing the requisite fridge space, since nothing should be stored on top of it, and you want to leave easy access to the front in order to be able to get at your cheeses. Mine is a small/medium apartment-size fridge. It's possible this wouldn't be a consideration with a larger appliance, or if you tend not to keep too much in the fridge, but you still prioritize cheese. (Respect.)

Cheese Grotto options

Cheese Grottos come in four different sizes, with the largest, the Classico, being the most aesthetically pleasing with a built-in, pull-down door, but all are attractive and worthy of consideration, depending on how much cheese you anticipate storing.

Cheese Grotto comparison chart


ClassicoFrescoMezzoPiatto
Dimensions 12x7.5x8.5 in. (DWH)9x7x8 in. (DWH) 9x7x6 in. (DWH) 6.5x6x6 in. (DWH)
Weight 8 lbs.5 lbs.4 lbs.2 lbs.
Shelves 2211
Cheese capacity 8 lbs.3-4 lbs.2 lbs.1 lb.
Price $350$285$125$85

Other offerings from Cheese Grotto

In addition to the Grottos themselves, Cheese Grotto has other options for cheese aficionados, including a monthly subscription package, a quarterly "Meet the Makers" subscription, which includes a Zoom tasting along with the cheesemakers themselves, and the occasional holiday-themed gift box, such as this Mother's Day option that magically includes both flowers and chocolate along with the cheese. (Fun tip: The chocolate here is also made with cheese!)

cheese grotto with cheese on table

Cheese Grotto also offers a subscription with loads of great, you guessed it, cheese and other snacks to nibble on.

Pamela Vachon/CNET

Second only to getting a monthly subscription from a local shop or specific creamery in your area, Cheese Grotto is probably my favorite cheese subscription option, knowing the person behind the operation and her relationship with cheesemakers. A recent subscription box and the Mother's Day box, in fact, includes a special rose-covered goat cheese that's exclusive to Cheese Grotto.

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