23.2.08

French Cheese and Wine Partners

I have always been curious about the various cheeses produced the world over. For starter, I found the following on some of the best Cheeses from France. Watch out for my other research finds on cheeses from Italy, Switzerland, Greece, and the rest of other cheese producers of the world.

AISY CENDRE’ was created by the same people who saved the Epoisses cheese from oblivion after World War Two: Fromagerie Berthaut. They discovered that cheese buried in ashes had nutty flavor.

How Made: Usually, a young Epoisses cheese is sued. The cheese is salted and washed with Marc de Bourgogne then buried in oak ashes for one month. The result is the Aisy Cendré. Strong in taste and has hazelnut and walnut flavor.

Great with: Bourgogne Red wine

BEAUFORT was already known during the time of the Romans and was named after a small rural town in the French Alps. Beaufort cheeses come in three versions, Beaufort, Beaufort d’été (summer Beaufort) and Beaufort d’Alpage (in the Alps mountains). D’ Alpage is made with milk from Tarine (or Tarentaise) cows which live in the mountains and graze exclusively on natural pastures. It is said that one can taste and feel the grass and flowers of the mountain when eating a piece of Beaufort.

How Made: It takes about 500 litres (130 gallons) of milk to make a Beaufort of 45 kg (99 lb). Beaufort needs to age between 4 to 6 months or even more, in a mountain cellar that maintains a cool temperature throughout the year.

Beaufort is a large cheese weighing over 36 kg (80 lb) but more generally 45 kg (99lb). Beaufort is richer and creamier than other mountain cheeses such as Gruyere, Comté or Emmental. Beaufort has the scent of milk, butter and honey. The supple paste has flowery and herbs aromas.

Goes well with smoked salmon and also Beaufort cut in small squares on crackers. Like Gruyere, Beaufort melts well and is a very good choice for a cheese fondue or a hot sandwich. Take it also with Chablis, Burgundy white wine.


BOURSIN is used around the world by Chefs. Boursin is a major ingredient in numerous dishes from appetizers to entrees.

How Made: This triple-cream cheese is made with cow's milk, cream and flavored with herbs, garlic or pepper and is rich and creamy. Boursin is a perfect match with baguette and goes also very well with almost any bread. It adds flavor to meat, seafood, fruits, and vegetables. It can be used in mashed potatoes or in sandwiches instead of butter, or even in tomato soup instead of sour cream.

Take Boursin with Dry white wine or fruity red wine such as Beaujolais.


BRIE DE MEAUX is an ancient cheese as evidenced from the chronicles of Charlemagne. It is said that in 774, during the French revolution, the Emperor tasted the cheese in the small city of Brie. It is also worthy of King’s Louis XVI final wish. Declared in 1814 by the Prince de Talleyrand as "Le Roi des Fromages" ( The King of Cheeses). Brie de Meaux is probably the finest, and most widely the best known French cheese.

How Made: About 25 liters (6.60 gallons) of pasteurized cow's milk are needed to make one Brie de Meaux cheese. According to tradition, the cheese is cast manually with the help of a "pelle à brie" (perforated ladle/shovel). The cheese is then salted, exclusively with dry salt. Considered as one of the world’s top cheeses Brie is sweet and delivers a combination of hazelnut and fruit aromas.

Brie is a perfect match with Champagne. Or a red Bordeaux or Bourgogne (Burgundy)

CAMEMBERT is one of the most famous cheeses in France. It dates back to the 18th century. And named after a Norman village where there is a statue of its creator Marie Harel. In 1855, the cheese was presented to Napoleon, introduced as from the village of Camembert. He enjoyed it very much and from that moment Camembert became known everywhere by this name.

How Made: From pasteurized cow's milk. At the beginning of its ripening, Camembert is crumbly and soft and gets creamier over time (usually 2-3 weeks). An affinage of 21 days is legally required. Camembert has a matured but delicate salty taste. Best with baguette bread and also excellent served with fruits or nuts. Best taken at room temperature and with Red Bordeaux wine or Beaujolais.

CANTAL is one of the oldest cheeses in France dating back as far back as Roquefort and Livarot. It was named after the Cantal Mountains in Auvergne where the cheese comes from.

How Made: Cantal is made from pasteurized cow’s milk Milk is first heated at 90F, pressed in order to expel the whey and then left for 8 hours allowing the lactid acids to develop the cheese. It is salted and pressed again 3 or 4 more times. Cantal is left to rest for at least one month for a young cheese, up to 6 months for a medium cheese and 6 months for an old cheese. Cantal cheese develops stronger the longer it rests has a milky aroma with nutty flavor. Take Cantal cheese with nuts, grapes and/or apples. Cantal is used in salads, soups, cheese fondue or gratins.

Best with Red wine from Cotes du Rhone or Beaujolais.

COMTE is an ancient cheese. It has been produced since the time of Charlemagne and is traditionally made in more than 190 cheese dairies, known as the "fruitières" in the Jura plateau.

How Made: Cheesemakers need about 530 liters of milk - the daily production of 30 cows - to make one Comté, weighing approximately 35 kilos (80 pounds). Morning and evening milks from Montbeliarde and Tachete de L'est cows are mixed in the process and requires a long maturing period called affinage. Part of the process is regularly cleaning and rubbing the cheese with salted water. The eyes or holes, size of a pea or a small cherry results from a correct affinage. Comté has a complex, hazelnut and caramelized flavors. As an appetizer, Comté is perfect cut into small cubes. As a traditional fondue cheese, Comté can be grated, chunked or melted.

Best with Dry white wines such as Sancerre, light red wine such as Beaujolais,

EPOISSES was first made by monks from the Abbaye de Citeaux, in the heart of Burgundy. It is said that this was Napoleon’s favorite cheese. Epoisses is a remarkable cheese and follows a complicated traditional making process.

How Made: Epoisses is made through milk coagulation. The milk comes from cows which have grazed for three months in the meadows of Burgundy. Epoisses is first washed with salty water and then kept in a humid cellar. After a month it is washed again with a mix of rainwater and Marc de Bourgogne's spirit, done two to three times a week. Epoisses has a powerful rich flavor, salty and creamy with a pungent smell and best combined with a raisin bread.

Best with White wine from Burgundy or sweet wine such as Sauternes. Alternatively, a Marc de Bourgogne's spirit.

These are but just a few of the exquisite cheese flavors from France. For a more complete list see here.

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