WHEN experts taste cheese for the purpose of making large purchases, they go about it much the way wine tasters might, with great erudition and seriousness.... Most of us, of course, aren't that skilled. But there are some insights that can be gleaned from the expert's process even for the nonexpert.
First of all, the cheese must be at room temperature to release its odors properly. Does it have any off odor...?
How does it feel? The expert will take a piece of cheese and roll it around in his fingers to check its body, its resistance to pressure. A hard cheese should not be sticky under pressure.
How does it taste? A cheese of medium age might be expected to have a pronounced cheese flavor but not a sense of astringency.... The flavor should be clean. No cheese should leave an acidic aftertaste that lingers.
Although most of us can't and won't go through all of that in buying cheese for the home, it does make sense to purchase cheese from a shop that will let you sample it first....