Published January 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.
Domestic cheeses bear little resemblance to the real thing.
Though its fame derives mainly from its use in fondue and French onion soup, Gruyère is also a table cheese revered for its creamy texture and savory flavor. Both Switzerland and France make authentic versions that are crafted from raw cow's milk and aged for the better part of a year in government-designated regions (the French cheese is called Gruyère de Comté).
Though labeled "Gruyère," domestic cheeses of this type bear little resemblance to the real thing. Made from pasteurized cow's milk, they are aged for fewer months and have a rubbery texture and bland flavor. In fact, in a blind taste test of nine brands, tasters overwhelmingly panned the two domestic versions, likening one to "plastic." Imported Gruyères, on the other hand, received raves. The top picks in the lineup were three reserve cheeses, aged 10 or more months to develop stronger flavor.