Fontina originated in Italy in 1477 in the mountainous Val d’Aosta region near the Swiss border. It was named Fontina d’Aosta for Mont Fontin and the nearby village of Fontinaz. Fontina is considered one of the most versatile cheeses in the world because it is excellent as both a table cheese and a cooking cheese. Fontina has been copied often, with the most notable styles being Italian, Swedish and Danish. Today, Wisconsin cheesemakers produce all three. The Italian style has a smooth, supple texture with tiny holes, a brown coating and a flavor that is mild, earthy and buttery. The Swedish variety is slightly tart and nutty yet has a mild earthy flavor that runs mellow to sharp depending on age. Danish Fontina is also slightly tart and nutty with a mild earthy flavor that ranges from mellow to sharp depending on age.
Danish-style: Pale ivory to light straw yellow, red wax coating, slightly rounded corners
Italian-style: Ivory to pale gold, both rindless and brown coating
Swedish-style: Pale ivory to light straw yellow, red wax coating, straight corners
Smooth, supple with tiny holes, semi-soft, slightly creamy
Danish-style and Swedish-style: slightly tart, tangy, nutty, light earthy flavor; mellow to sharp depending on age
Italian-style: mild, earthy, buttery
Serve Fontina for breakfast with fruit and breads or use in egg dishes, crepes, fondue and Raclette applications.
Add shredded Fontina to the crust of your next apple pie or add it to dough for cheese breads.
Layer slices of Fontina between slices of polenta drizzled with marinara sauce; bake until cheese melts and the dish is heated through.
Excellent in Focaccia sandwiches layered with pesto, roasted red peppers and Italian salami; serve hot or cold.
Layer slices of Fontina with mild copa or wine salami and roasted red peppers on a panini, then grill.
Goes Well With
Veal, prosciutto, Genoa salami, crusty bread, peaches, melons, figs, nectarines
Fruity wines; light reds like Gamay Beaujolais or Pinot Noir; whites like Riesling or Gewurztraminer
Danish-style Fontina: 10-pound red wax wheel
Italian-style Fontina: 20-pound brown-coated or rindless wheel, 10-pound rindless wheel, 10-pound half wheel, 8- to 10-ounce random-weight cuts
Swedish-style Fontina: 18-pound rindless block, 10-pound red wax wheel, 8- to 10-ounce random-weight cuts
The Italian version of fondue is made with Fontina, white truffles, eggs, milk and white wine. It is whipped and poured over individual plates of rice, boiled potatoes, polenta or steamed vegetables.
Some Wisconsin cheesemakers refer to Danish-style Fontina as Scandinavian-style.
Fontina was made popular in the United States by the Swedes when they began exporting Swedish Fontina.