By Julie Hartigan

July 16, 2020

A French Wine and Cheese Pairing

France is definitely a wine and cheese lover’s heaven, and they take the craftsmanship of both very seriously!  Many of the best fromages and vintages have strict rules and regulations monitoring quality and making sure highly specific regional traditions are upheld.

From the gentle rose wines of Provence, to the crisp whites of Alsace and bubbles of Champagne, to the complexity of reds of Bordeaux, the tangy goat cheeses of the Loire Valley and the luscious triple cremes of Burgundy; the French wine and cheese experience is not to be missed.

And the wonderful thing about French wine and cheese is there’s no need to travel to Europe to explore them! A world of regional flavors and specialities are available at your local shop.

But where to begin?  Pairing cheeses with the perfect wine is not an art (or even really a science!) While there are some pairing principles you can consider, it truly comes down to personal tastes and preferences.

If you’re just snacking on a small selection you could try pairing a strong, complex cheese with a simple wine – or flip things around and try a simple, rustic cheese with a more robust, deeply flavored wine.

Probably the best principle to follow when pairing wine and cheese is “what grows together, goes together”.  You really can’t go wrong pairing local or regional wines with their equivalent local or regional cheeses (or iconic dishes for that matter!). The terroir for growing the grape vines and growing the grass and for the cows, goats and sheep will be similar – lending a complementary tasting element to your pairing.

In France cheeses are often served simply with just a baguette and charcuterie. But here at I Love Imported Cheese we’re big fans of creating elaborate tasting boards to sample as many specialties as possible!  In the case of a French board, this would include include Pâtès, Terrines, Cornichons, Rosette de Lyon Salame, Olives, Farmer’s Market Fruit, and a French picnic icon that’s not to be missed: crispy lightly bitter radishes with rich, creamy salted butter!

You can of course also experience French cheeses through some of our classic recipes like a Gruyere filled Croque Madame, French Lamb Sliders with Delice de Bourgogne and Fig Jam, or a Tartiflette with Raclette.

There are also a few special French wine and cheese pairings to note!

♥ Triple Cream Brie & Bubbly (or Chenin Blanc!)

These soft, creamy, fragrant cheeses are always a favorite, served at room temperature so they’re nice and oozy, giving off their distinctive aroma and filled with fascinating, complex flavors. Bries are thick, fatty cheeses, and as such require a wine that will cleanse the palate. The sharp apple and pear flavors of a good Chenin Blanc (especially those from the Loire Valley) or the bubbles of a Crémant de Bourgogne or a classic Champagne will cut through that richness and keep the triple cream from weighing down your taste.

♥ Loire Valley Love: Goat Cheese & Sancerre

There are many, many goat cheeses in France, but the most popular are probably the creamy, slightly crumbly chevre cheeses from the Loire Valley, served in logs. The tart acidity of the goat cheese pairs perfectly with the high acid, full bodied classic Sancerre wine made from Sauvignon Blanc. Enjoy them as is or in our fun twists “Goat Cheese Three Ways”.

Goat Cheese 3 Ways

♥ A Unique Dessert Course: Roquefort & Sauternes

Blue, runny, and powerfully flavored Roquefort is a major player in many French dishes.  And in a similar way to pairing Port wine with Blue Cheese for dessert you’ll be blown away by how well it pairs with a sweet Sauternes. Made from withered grapes and filled with the flavors of honey, dried fruits and candied nuts; Sauternes and Roquefort cheese is one of those amazing tasting moments you won’t forget!

♥ Create the Perfect Picnic with Dry Rosé

The bright, fruit flavors and acidity in a dry rosé make it a versatile pairing choice for so many cheeses and warm weather fruits – it’s the perfect way to give your basic picnic a sophisticated French vibe!