In light of the increasing interest in the economic and socio-political impact of the ‘traditional food’ trend, it is essential to understand the determinant factors that lead to traditional consumer choices. The standardization of sensory quality evaluation methods marks the pressing need for food product certification, particularly foods with specific sensory characteristics, such as those with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). Consumer perception of particular foods, especially for foods that are culturally and socially contingent, such as cheese, must be understood as both a psychophysical reflex and a learned social practice. Consumers create their own perceptions based on the overall intrinsic or extrinsic cheese characteristics, mainly sensory characteristics that reflect others’ attributes. These characteristics are normally linked to the specific cheese manufacture process. Some patents propose the use of adapted cheesemaking equipment (EP1982582A2), suitable for the manufacture of small-scale cheeses, such as some PDO cheese.
Thus, sensory evaluation of any kind of cheese is based, in the initial phase, on knowledge of the sensory methods for cheese evaluation and, in a second phase, on the familiarity of the cheese characteristics and verbalization of desirable and undesirable attributes.
This paper presents a case study based on the traditional food product, Évora cheese, assembled with PDO cheeses, whose sensory and physicochemical quality attributes are essential in order to obtain this designation and ensure the genuine properties that characterize them, as well as ascertaining exactly how they are perceived and further accepted by the consumer.