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Alsace is bordered on the West by the Vosges and on the East by the Rhine which separates it from Germany. Alsace is a lovely region with green hills and a semi-continental climate with hot summers and cold winters with frequent snowfall.

Auvergne is famous for its volcanic landscape and spring water. Hot summers and cold winters, living in the Auvergne requires strong character and personality, the local people always offer a warm welcome.

Burgundy spans 225 miles south of Paris. With a continental climate and variety of soils, the region also produces a few of the most exciting wines in the world.

Champagne is east of Paris, along the Marne, Vesle and Aisne Rivers. The weather is quite special with average temperatures of 52 to 53.5 F. In addition to fine cheese, it is also home of one of the most well known wines in the world.

Corsica is affectionately called "L'île de beauté" (The beautiful island). It is in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Nice. In addition to cheeses, the wines produced on the island are delicious, with the best coming from the coast.

Franche-Comté borders Switzerland. It is a region of mountains, woods, plateaus, lakes, waterfalls and pastures and is renowned for its natural beauty. And, probably one of the least explored regions in France.

Ile de France is the capital region of France - Paris, city of art and romance. With its famous monuments such as the Eiffel tower, Louvre, Notre Dame and the river Seine, it is one of the most visited cities in the World.

Loire Valley, in the west central France, is often considered the most beautiful Frensh wine region. It follows the rivewr, starting in the Auvergne and finishing on the Atlantic coast around Nantes city. The landscape is quiet and undulated.

Midi-Pyrenees offers a very contrasted landscape. With mountains that provide excellent skiing, further to the north there are fertile plains beside the rivers for agriculture. Auvergne and finishing on the Atlantic coast around Nantes city. The landscape is quiet and undulated.

Normandy is in the northwest, on the coast of the English Channel. It combines a dramatic coastline with an interior of lush farmland and historic landmarks. Gastronomic delights abound, from fine cheeses to cider and Calvados.

Pas-de-Calais is the most northern part of France, with a coastline on the English Channel. There is an historical influence of the Flemish as the region borders with Belgium. The people of this region are known for being very friendly.

Pays Basque lies inland and is very similar to the other half of the Pyrenees, with rivers, foothills, valleys and mountains. The Pays Basque however, has the added attraction of the Atlantic Ocean and coastline with the western setting sun.

Rhone Alpes/Savoie is vast and varied, with high mountain regions to the east, the river Rhone valley in the centre and the hills of the Ardeche to the west. This region also offers fine wines, including the famous Côte du Rhone.

Abondance (ah bon DAHNS)
Since the 14th century, Abondance monks have been producing this high-quality cheese with milk from Abondance, Tarine, and Montbéliarde cows. Molded under cloth with a wooden hoop that gives the cheese its concave form, Abondance ripens for at least 90 days. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Savoie
Production & aging: Molded and pressed, aging varies from 3 to 9 months
Appearance: Hard, golden-brown rind with a pale yellow paste
Texture and taste: A smooth, medium-hard paste and a complex, fruity flavor with hints of nuts
Wine pairing suggestions: Chablis, Gamay or Pinot Noir
Similar cheeses: Comté, Beaufort

Beaufort (BOH for)
These giant, 44–154 pound wheels of cooked and pressed hard cheese originate in a small town in the French Alps and age in mountain cellars that maintain cool temperatures all year long. To make one wheel of Beaufort cheese, it takes about 130 gallons of milk from Tarine or Abondance cows that graze exclusively on natural pastures. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Savoie
Production & aging: Cooked and pressed, aging varies from 5 to more than 12 months
Appearance: Golden-yellow rind with a firm and supple paste
Texture and taste: A smooth, medium-hard paste and a rich, milky flavor with aromas of butter and honey
Wine pairing suggestions: Chablis, Bourgogne Blanc
Similar cheeses: Comté, Tomme de Savoie

Bethmale (bet MAHL)
The earliest mention of Bethmale is from the 12th century, when King Louis VI of France is said to have tasted it during a visit to the region. Regularly washed and turned as they mature, the wheels of Bethmale develop a dense rind encasing a rich, mild flavor with hints of wildflowers.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Midi-Pyrenees
Production & aging: Molded and pressed, aging from 3 to 6 months
Appearance: Leathery, orange rind and a buttery paste with tiny holes
Texture and taste: A firm, open-textured paste and a slightly sweet flavor
Wine pairing suggestions: Granache Noir, Mourvedre, or Syrah

Bleu d'Auvergne (blue doh VAIRN yeh)
It was in one of the caves of Auvergne that Bleu d'Auvergne was discovered when, by mistake, a round of cheese was laid to age next to a piece of rye bread. The distinctive blue veins are a reflection of the wild environment where the cheese matures. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Auvergne
Production & aging: Aged at least 4 weeks
Appearance: Ivory with blue veins
Texture and taste: Creamy with spicy flavors of grasses and wild flowers
Wine pairing suggestions: Sauternes, Port, Cahors, Côtes du Rhône
Similar cheese: Fourme d'Ambert

Bleu de Gex (blue de ZHEX)
Known under the official name of Bleu du Haut Jura, Bleu de Gex has been made the same way since the 14th century. Small mountainside dairies in the Jura area of the Franche-Comté region use milk from Montbéliarde cows to create this flavorful bleu cheese. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Franche-Comté
Production & aging: Formed into large flat wheels, aged from 1 to 3 months
Appearance: White powdery rind and a ivory paste with even, blue-green marbling
Texture and taste: A dense, almost crumbly paste and a mild, slightly sweet flavor
Wine pairing suggestions: Beaujolais, Cote du Rhone
Similar cheeses: Bleu d'Auvergne, Fourme d'Ambert

Brie (BREE)
At the 1815 Congress of Vienna, French foreign minister Talleyrand proclaimed Brie the "king of cheeses." The proximity of the Brie region to Paris may explain the popularity of this sweet and refined, world-famous cheese that's soft-ripened, with a flowery rind.

Type: Cow's milk (True Brie is made with unpasteurized milk, unavailable in the US.)
Origin: Ile de France
Production & aging: Aged at least 4 weeks
Appearance: A pale, straw-colored paste and a thin rind of white mold
Texture and taste: Soft and creamy with full, mellow flavor and rich aroma
Wine pairing suggestions: Right-Bank Bordeaux Reds, Beaujolais (Red), Languedoc Syrah, not-too-dry Sauvignon Blanc
Similar cheeses: Coulommiers, Camembert

Brillat-Savarin (bree YA sav ah RAN)
Named after an 18th century French gourmet writer, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, this lusciously creamy cheese was created in the 1930s.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Ile de France
Production & aging: Soft-ripened, aged from 1 or 2 weeks up to 2 months
Appearance: Thin, white, flowery rind and pale yellow paste
Texture and taste: Buttery and rich, slightly salty
Wine pairing suggestions: Champagne, sweet white dessert wine
Similar cheeses: triple cream

Brocciu (BRO shoe)
Considered a national food in Corsica, an island off the Mediterranean Côte d'Azur, Brocciu is made from whey and sheep's milk. First the whey is heated, then the sheep's milk is added and the mixture is heated again. Finally, the whey is drained and the cheese is ready.

Type: Sheep's milk
Origin: Corsica
Production & aging: Fresh soft cheese, aged from just 48 hours up to a month
Appearance: Soft, white dome
Texture and taste: Sweet and milky
Wine pairing suggestions: Beaujolais, Corsican white or red wines

Camembert (KAH mun BARE)
This quintessential French cheese is soft-ripened with a white, flowery rind (croute-fleurie) and a creamy yellow paste. Made from the milk of cows raised on the lush, green grass of Normandy. The taste of a ripe Camembert is reminiscent of wild mushrooms.

Type: Cow's milk (preferably from the black-and-white Normande breed of cows)
Origin: Normandy
Production & aging: Aged at least 4 weeks
Appearance: Dusted with a white mold swathed by very light brown stripes
Texture and taste: Creamy, butter-textured paste that gives way to light pressure
Wine pairing suggestions: Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône, Sauternes
Similar cheeses: Brie, Coulommiers

Cantal (kahn TAHL)
A distinguished, semi-hard cheese, dating back 2,000 years to the time of the Gauls, Cantal is a heavy, moist mountain cheese crafted in a large, cylindrical shape that's one foot in diameter. A young Cantal has the sweetness of raw milk; well aged, it has a stronger flavor. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk (from the Salers breed of cows)
Origin: Auvergne
Production & aging: Produced in three sizes of differing ages (30 days, 2–6 months, and more than 6 months)
Appearance: Firm to the touch with a soft yellow (young) or gray-gold rind
Texture and taste: Semi-hard texture; young cheese is sweet while the more aged cheese has a stronger, hazelnut-tinged flavor
Wine pairing suggestions: White Bordeaux, Beaujolais (Red), Right-Bank Bordeaux (Merlot), Champagne (Blanc de Noir)
Similar cheeses: Comté, Abondance

Chaource (shah OORS)
Made since the early 14th century in the small town of the same name, Chaource is similar to Camembert, but with a creamier texture. When aged, it becomes very creamy. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Champagne
Production & aging: Made in miniature wheels and aged 2 to 4 weeks
Appearance: Small wheels with a white, flowery rind and pale yellow paste
Texture and taste: Smooth when young, creamy when aged. Fully matured wheels are nutty and a bit salty.
Wine pairing suggestions: Champagne, Sancerre, Chablis
Similar cheeses: double cream

Comté (kon TAY)
One of the most popular cheeses in France, Comté is produced year-round by small, cooperative dairies known as fruitières in the rich mountain pastures of the Jura. Comté is a nourishing and versatile Alpine-style cheese that is dense and full of flavor. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Franche-Comté
Production & aging: Aged at least 4 months; can be 6 to 12 or even 18 months
Appearance: Hard, yellow-brownish rind with a firm and supple paste
Texture and taste: Hard with scattered holes, a creamy, pale paste with a nutty, fruity and sweet flavor
Wine pairing suggestions: Riesling or Gewürztraminer d'Alsace, Sauvignon Blanc, Pouilly-Fumé, Bourgogne Blanc, Beaujolais (Red), Sauternes, and Chenin Blanc, such as Vouvray, Quarts-des-Charme, or Savennières
Similar cheeses: Abondance, Beaufort

Coulommiers (koo lum ee YAY)
This member of the Brie family may actually be older than its more popular cousin. Coulommiers offers a flavor and texture similar to Brie and is wonderful served at room temperature with crusty bread, apples, pears, and a light red or white wine.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Ile de France
Production & aging: Soft-ripened, aged from 4 to 6 weeks
Appearance: White mold rind and a pale yellow paste
Texture and taste: A smooth, creamy paste and a delicate flavor that intensifies with age
Wine pairing suggestions: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot
Similar cheeses: Brie, Camembert

Delice de Bourgogne (de LEES de boor GOHN yuh)
Get past the pungent aroma of its chalky rind and you'll discover the decadent, melt-in-your mouth texture and delicate flavor of Delice de Bourgogne, another triple-cream cheese created by the 18th century gourmet writer, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Burgundy
Production & aging: Soft-ripened, aged about 4 weeks
Appearance: Thin, white, bloomy rind and an ivory paste
Texture and taste: A smooth paste that varies from creamy near the rind to whipped butter near the center, and a delicate flavor throughout
Wine pairing suggestions: Champagne
Similar cheeses: Brillat-Savarin

Emmental (EM en tal)
Made in wheels that are over three feet in diameter, with large holes (or eyes), and a sweet aroma and taste. Emmental is a cooked and pressed cheese with a firm, ivory to pale yellow paste. Traditionally made with raw milk, a pasteurized version is available in the US.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Made in many regions of France, including Savoie
Production & aging: Cooked and pressed, aged at least a month
Appearance: Hard, yellow or brownish rind and pale yellow paste with large holes (1/4" to 1-1/4" in diameter)
Texture and taste: A smooth, medium-hard paste with a light, sweet, slightly salty taste
Wine pairing suggestions: Riesling or Gewürztraminer d'Alsace, Beaujolais (Red), Sauternes
Similar cheeses: Beaufort, Comté (both stronger tasting than Emmental)

Époisses (a PWASS)
First made by Cistercian monks in the 16th century, Époisses is a very popular, semi-soft, washed-rind cheese with a milder flavor than its strong scent might suggest. In 1826, the famous food writer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin fell in love with Époisses as soon as he tasted it. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Burgundy
Production & aging: Washed with Marc de Bourgogne spirit, which gives it a distinctive flavor, and aged at least 4 weeks
Appearance: Smooth, washed rind with an orange tint that darkens with age
Texture and taste: Creamy with a strong aroma and a smooth, soft, mouth-watering flavor
Wine pairing suggestions: Champagne, White Rhône or Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Cahors, Bourgogne Blanc, Riesling d'Alsace, Pinot Blanc d'Alsace, Gewürztraminer d'Alsace
Similar cheeses: Langres

Fourme d'Ambert (foorm don BAIR)
Dating back to Roman times, Fourme d'Ambert is made in the Monts de Forez in distinctly narrow cylinders to which cultured penicillin is added before aging for at least two months. During the aging process, the cheese is injected with Vouvray moelleux, a sweet white wine. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Auvergne
Production & aging: Aged in caves for 2 months
Appearance: Narrow cylindrical shape, ivory-colored with blue veins
Texture and taste: Semi-hard, off-white paste with blue veins and a mild, delicately fruity flavor with mushroom overtones
Wine pairing suggestions: Côtes du Rhône (Red), Saumur Champigny, Sauternes
Similar cheese: Bleu d'Auvergne

Fromager d'Affinois (fro mah ZHAY dah feen WAH)
A process called ultrafiltration removes water from the pasteurized milk that goes into Fromager d'Affinois. This disperses the fat molecules, resulting in a double-cream cheese with a softer texture and subdued, salty flavor.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Rhone-Alpes
Production & aging: Soft-ripened, aged from 2 to 8 weeks
Appearance: Bloomy, white rind and an ivory paste
Texture and taste: Soft, creamy paste with a tangy, buttery flavor
Wine pairing suggestions: Champagne
Similar cheeses: Brie, Brillat-Savarin

Goat's Milk Cheeses
Crafted in a number of France's regions, though frequently found in the Loire Valley and Poitou-Charentes regions, white goat cheeses (chèvres) are a legacy of the Saracens, people of Arab decent who lived in Spain and then France up until the 8th century. Goat's milk cheeses present a delightful array of tastes and textures and include many PDO cheeses.

Type: Goat's milk
Origin: Loire Valley
Production & aging: Varies
Appearance: A variety of shapes, including pyramidal and cylindrical
Texture and taste: Ranging from moist and creamy to dry and semi-firm
Wine pairing suggestions: Chenin Blanc, such as Vouvray or Savennières; Sauvignon Blanc, such as Sancerre (White) or White Bordeaux; White Burgundy; Red or White Beaujolais/Rhône
Includes: Bûche, Bûcheron, Chabichou du Poitou, Crottin, Sainte-Maure

Laguiole (la gee YOHL)
Made in the mountains from cow's milk collected between May and October, Laguiole was invented at a monastery in the 19th century. It's named for the city of Laguiole, which is also known for its finely crafted knives. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Midi-Pyrenees
Production & aging: Uncooked and pressed, aged 6 to 12 months
Appearance: Thick, dry, grayish-brown rind and a smooth, straw-colored paste
Texture and taste: A firm, supple paste with a sharp, complex flavor
Wine pairing suggestions: Merlot, Syrah, Muscadelle, Mauzac
Similar cheeses: Cantal, Salers

Langres (LON gre)
The top of a round of Langres often features a slight depression called a fontaine or cuvette, where one can pour a bit of Champagne. Langres has a strong aroma, firm paste, and a complex, slightly salty flavor. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Champagne
Production & aging: Washed-rind, aged 1 or 2 months
Appearance: Bright orange rind
Texture and taste: Dense texture and rich, creamy flavor with sour hints
Wine pairing suggestions: full-bodied red Burgundy, Champagne, Marc de Bourgogne brandy
Similar cheese: Époisses

Livarot (lee vah ROH)
In the 19th century, Livarot was the most-consumed cheese in Normandy and considered the "poor man's meat" because of its nutritional value and affordable price. Named after a village to the south of Lisieux and dating back to the Middle Ages, Livarot is bound by straps of leaves or paper reminiscent of the stripes on a uniform, lending the cheese its nickname, "the Colonel." Following ancient cheese-making methods, Livarot is washed in salty water and turned throughout the aging process. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Normandy
Production & aging: Washed rind, aged 1 to 3 months
Appearance: Smooth orange rind wrapped with three to five strips, pale yellow paste with scattered holes
Texture and taste: Soft paste with a full, spicy flavor and strong aroma
Wine pairing suggestions: Red Pomerol, Tokay d'Alsace
Similar cheese: Pont l'Evêque

Mimolette (mee moh LET)
Produced in Flanders in northernmost France, this cheese has a distinctive round shape and orange coloration. When properly aged (18 months or more), Mimolette takes on a mouth-watering array of fruity, nutty flavors.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Pas-de-Calais
Production & aging: A pressed, cooked cheese of four different ages—3, 6, 12, or 24 months
Appearance: Hard and in the shape of a cannonball (about 8" in diameter) with a unique, pitted, crusty rind of brownish color tinged with orange
Texture and taste: Hard and orange, when aged the paste has a complex, nutty-fruity flavor with hints of butterscotch
Wine pairing suggestions: rustic red wine such as Cahors, Carignan, or Languedoc Cabernet Sauvignon

Mont d'Or (mon DOOR)
A soft, rich, seasonal cheese, Mont d'Or is often warmed in its own spruce packaging and eaten like fondue. With its strong, unique aroma, Mont d'Or has a surprisingly mild flavor. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Franche-Comté
Production & aging: Washed rind, aged 5 to 7 weeks
Appearance: Dusted white rind with streaks of orange encasing a pale, off-white paste
Texture and taste: Sweet and mild flavor, soft and runny texture
Wine pairing suggestions: bold white wines

Morbier (mor bee YAY)
This unique, semi-soft cheese is made with two layers. During the long winter months, routes to dairy farms were often blocked by snow. To keep their milk from going to waste, many farmers would make cheese in a two-step process. They would place curds from the morning milk in molds and protect it with a fine layer of wood ash. In the evening, they would add curds from the second milking of the day to complete the wheel of cheese. This is how Morbier got its distinctive line running through the middle. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Franche-Comté
Production & aging: Aged at 4 to 8 weeks
Appearance: Yellowish, moist and leathery rind with an ivory-colored paste that is distinguished by a dark vein of plant ash streaking through the middle
Texture and taste: Aromatic, creamy and surprisingly mild, with a nutty aftertaste
Wine pairing suggestions: Red Burgundy, Beaujolais (Red)
Similar cheese: Saint-Nectaire

Munster (MUHN ster)
In the 7th century, Benedictine monks in the upper Munster valley were looking for a way to conserve milk so they could feed the local population during the winter months. They developed "Munster Kaes." This ancient cheese is washed frequently during the aging process to enhance its moist, reddish rind. A ripe Munster is pungent and rich with a strong barnyard aroma and an exquisite soft paste. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Alsace
Production & aging: Washed rind; aged 3 to 6 weeks in high humidity
Appearance: Orange-yellow to brick-red rind and lightly golden, soft, smooth paste. Produced in various sizes, from 4 ounces to 3-1/2 pounds.
Texture and taste: Soft-ripened with a rich, creamy, and tangy flavor
Wine pairing suggestions: Gewürztraminer d'Alsace, Riesling, Muscat
Similar cheeses: Livarot

Neufchâtel (NU shah TEL)
Very different from American neufchatel, which is similar to cream cheese, Neufchâtel is soft but slightly crumbly with a velvety rind. Its dry, white rind is edible and its pale paste has a salty, somewhat sharp flavor. Neufchâtel is the oldest Normandy cheese. It is available in various shapes, the most famous being a heart - a tradition started by young Norman women to discreetly express their feelings of affection to the young British soldiers during the 100 Years' War. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Normandy
Production & aging: Soft-ripened, aged 8 to 10 weeks
Appearance: Heart- or log-shaped with a white flowery rind
Texture and taste: Soft, slightly crumbly texture with a salty flavor of mushrooms

Ossau-Iraty (OH so ee RAH tee)
First made a thousand years ago in Basque country, Ossau-Iraty spends three months ripening in cool, humid cellars to acquire its characteristic tender, soft, ivory-colored paste. Its orange rind turns ash grey the longer the cheese is stored. (PDO)

Type: Ewe's milk
Origin: Pays Basque
Production & aging: Aged at least 90 days
Appearance: Ivory-colored paste with an orange to ash grey rind
Texture and taste: Hard with flavors of nuts, fruits and herbs
Wine pairing suggestions: fruity or dry white wines

Pont l'Evêque (POHN lay VEK)
Perhaps the oldest Norman cheese still in production, Pont l'Evêque dates back to the 13th century. Using rich, salty cow's milk, Pont l'Evêque is made near the Normandy coast and is one of the most popular cheeses in France. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Normandy
Production & aging: Soft-ripened, washed rind, aged 6 weeks
Appearance: Square shape, washed white rind with slight orange-brown coloring, and a creamy, pale-yellow paste
Texture and taste: Soft with a smooth, round flavor, fine texture, and a pungent aroma like buttered popcorn
Wine pairing suggestions: Champagne, Riesling, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Pomerol, Saint-Emilion, Calvados liqueur, hard cider
Similar cheese: Livarot

Port Salut (poor sah LEW)
Port Salut was created by Trappist monks when they were forced to flee their monastery during the French Revolution. After returning in 1815, they continued production and later trademarked their name, Société Anonyme des Fermiers Réunis (SAFR), which appears on every wheel.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Loire Valley
Production & aging: Washed and pressed, aged 1 month
Appearance: Bright orange rind with a pale yellow paste
Texture and taste: Smooth, supple texture and a mild, tangy taste
Wine pairing suggestions: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

Raclette (rah KLET)
From the French word racler, which means, "to scrape," Raclette is often heated and then scraped onto a plate, where it is enjoyed with potatoes, cured meats, pickles, and bread.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: French Alpes
Production & aging: Uncooked, pressed, and aged 3 to 6 months
Appearance: Yellow-orange rind with a pale yellow paste
Texture and taste: Silky smooth texture, nutty flavor
Wine pairing suggestions: Riesling d'Alsace, Pinot Gris

Reblochon (reh bloh SHOHN)
From the French reblocher, meaning "to pinch a cow's udder again." In the Middle Ages, farmers were taxed on the amount of milk their herds produced. So farmers would not fully milk their cows until after the landowner had come by to measure. Reblochon was made from the second milking, resulting in a richer cheese. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Rhone-Alpes
Production & aging: Washed rind, aged for 6 to 8 weeks
Appearance: White, bloomy rind with a pale yellow paste
Texture and taste: Soft, creamy texture, strong herbal aroma, and a nutty aftertaste
Wine pairing suggestions: Viognier, Beaujolais (Red)
Similar cheeses: Beaufort, Tomme de Savoie

Roquefort (rohk FOR)
Known as the King of the Blues, Roquefort is one of France's most distinctive cheeses and is considered a national treasure. Its production method has been legally observed for more than 600 years, but its first historical mention dates back to 1070. A blockbuster blue, true Roquefort comes from sheep's milk in the Aveyron region, ripened in the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in the caves of Cambalou. Roquefort's piquant yet balanced flavor and rich creaminess is unsurpassed. (PDO)

Type: Whole raw ewe's milk
Origin: Midi-Pyrenees
Production & aging: Aged in the caves of Mont Combalou for 3–9 months
Appearance: Round wheel, the paste is ivory white with holes and blue-green mold
Texture and taste: Crumbly and moist, with a zesty and creamy taste
Wine pairing suggestions: Sauternes, Muscat, Banyuls, Madeira, Sherry, Red Zinfandel
Similar cheeses: Bleu d'Auvergne, Bleu des Causses, Fourme d'Ambert

Saint Agur (sahnt ah GOOR)
Pungent but not overpowering, Saint Augur is an unusually creamy blue cheese. Qualifying as a double-cream cheese, Saint Agur spreads easily. Look for its distinctive octagonal shape and foil wrapper.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Auvergne
Production & aging: Molded and salted, aged for 2 to 3 months
Appearance: Ivory paste with olive-green veins
Texture and taste: Soft, creamy texture and a rich but mildly spicy taste
Wine pairing suggestions: Chardonnay, Vouvray Moelleux, Syrah or Port
Similar cheeses: Bleu d'Auvergne, Fourme d'Ambert, Roquefort

Saint-Félicien (san fay LEE see en)
Originally made from goat's milk, Saint-Félicien is now almost always made from the milk of cows. Soft and creamy, it is often sold in crocks.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Rhône Valley
Production & aging: Aged 2 to 6 weeks
Appearance: White, flowery rind and cream-colored paste
Texture and taste: Soft and very creamy with a mild, slightly nutty flavor
Wine pairing suggestions: white and red Rhône valley wines
Similar cheese: Saint-Marcellin

Saint-Marcellin (san MAR seh LAN)
A legendary farmhouse cheese made from the milk of cows that graze in the mountainous Dauphiné Province in southeastern France. The small rounds have a light natural rind and creamy paste that is soft and mild, but rich. Saint-Marcellin is often sold in small terra cotta pots.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Rhone-Alpes
Production & aging: Traditional farmhouse production aged 2 to 6 weeks
Appearance: Small and round, with an ivory-colored natural rind
Texture and taste: Soft, flowery rind, creamy with a robust, nutty, fruity flavor when ripe
Wine pairing suggestions: white and red Rhône valley wines
Similar cheese: Saint-Félicien

Saint-Nectaire (san nek TAIR)
Since at least the 17th century, Saint-Nectaire cheese has been made in central France through a process of hand-pressing the curds into molds, and then removing the cheese from the molds, wrapping it in cloth and washing in brine as it dries. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: Auvergne
Production & aging: semi-hard pressed, salted and wrapped in cloth, aged from 4 to 6 weeks
Appearance: Orange to grayish rind with a straw-colored paste
Texture and taste: Semi-hard paste, nutty and fruity flavor with a touch of salt and spice
Wine pairing suggestions: Burgundy, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay

Salers (sah LAIRS)
For 2000 years, Salers has been made only from April to November when the cows graze in high mountain pastures. The other half of the year, the pastures are covered in snow. Salers offers an intense, complex flavor of summer herbs and wildflowers, with a fruity aroma. (PDO)

Type: Cow's milk (from the Salers breed of cows)
Origin: Auvergne
Production & aging: Uncooked and pressed, aged up to 18 months
Appearance: Thick, gray rind and yellow paste
Texture and taste: Firm texture and a strong, complex flavor
Wine pairing suggestions: Grenache, Syrah, or Chardonnay
Similar cheeses: Cantal (aged)

Tomme de Savoie (TOHM de sav WAH)
Usually made with skim milk, Tomme de Savoie is lower in fat content than other cheeses. The flavor can vary depending on the cows' diet at the time of year—winter hay or summer grasses.

Type: Cow's milk
Origin: French Alpes
Production & aging: Uncooked, pressed, and aged for a month or more
Appearance: Hard, gray-brown rind with a firm, beige paste
Texture and taste: Smooth texture, earthy aroma, and nutty taste
Wine pairing suggestions: Côtes du Rhône, Riesling d'Alsace, Côtes de Beaune
Similar cheese: Comté

Create the perfect cheese plate.

The cheese plate (or as the French would say, plateau de fromage) can be served as a meal, an appetizer, a dessert, or a snack anytime of day. Delicious and filling, it's also a celebration of flavors, textures, colors and aromas. Whether you include cheeses you already know or experiment with new options, sharing a cheese plate with others is a fun and relaxing experience. Follow these simple tips to make your cheese plate a success:

Selection

  • It's about quality not quantity. Your cheese plate should showcase anywhere from 3 to 5 cheeses.
  • Plan on 4 to 6 ounces of cheese per person.
  • Choose a variety of cheese styles—from creamy soft to hard, and different milk types.
  • For peak freshness and flavor, shop for cheese close to your event.
  • Ask the experts for help. Your local fromager can suggest complementary flavors and textures to create a harmonious cheese platter.
 

Presentation

  • Bring cheese to room temperature before serving (approximately 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size).
  • Arrange cheeses in a clockwise fashion from mildest to most pungent and complex.
  • For the best fromage plate sampling experience start with the mildest cheese at 6 o'clock and continue around the cheeseboard.
  • Experiment with different shapes for a stunning visual presentation.

Pairing with Food

  • Slice apples or pears into thin wedges and arrange with selected cheeses.
  • Include figs, blackberries, golden raisins and dried apricots for a sweet, exotic complement.
  • Add a healthy crunch with a variety of nuts.
  • Go gourmet with quince paste, plum butter or chutney on the side.
  • Drizzle a little honey on pungent cheeses for a dash of sweetness.
  • Offer toast points, fruit and nut crostini or thin slices from a baguette.
  • Remember, the cheese is the star. If serving crackers, select mild styles that won't compete with the cheese.

Pairing with Beverages

  • French wines, red and white, from the same region as your cheeses are a natural choice. Ask your sommelier for pairing suggestions.
  • In general, pair a mild cheese with a lighter, milder wine and a more robust, stronger cheese with a bolder wine.
  • Beer, cider, coffee, and liqueurs can also complement The Cheeses of France.

Because it is such an important part of the French diet and culture, cheese making has a language of its own. Here are some terms that relate to the process and people involved in The Cheeses of France.

Affinage (AH fee nahj)
The process of aging or ripening cheese in carefully controlled environments.

Affineur (AH fee noor)
The "cheese ager" is responsible for the care and handling of cheese during the aging process.

AOC
(Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) CONTROLLED DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN, AOC is a logo that guarantees to the consumer that the cheese is produced, prepared and processed following strict rules in the geographical region mentioned.

Artisanal (ar TEE zan ul)
The French word used to describe a cheese that is made by hand rather than by machine.

Bistro (BEE stro)
A bistro is a friendly neighborhood restaurant, where you can always enjoy cheeses of France.

Bleu (bluh)
The French word for blue.

Brebis (BREH bee)
The French word for ewe, it also refers to cheese made from ewe's milk.

Bûche (BOOSH)
The French word for log.

Chèvre (SHEV ruh)
Cheese made from goat's milk. Chèvre is the French word for goat.

Fondue (fon DOO)
From the French word fondre, meaning "to melt," fondue is a shared dish usually comprised of cheese or chocolate, although the term was originally used with cheese.

Fromage (fro MAHJ)
The French word for cheese.

Fromager (fro mahj EHR)
A cheese seller, a cheese expert or a cheese retailer.

Fromagerie (fro mahj eh REE)
A storefront devoted to cheese with a specialty in traditional, artisanal cheeses.

Fruitière (fru tee EHR)
Cheese-making cooperative specific to the Franche-Comte and Savoie mountains

Hard cheese
Hard cheese has a lower moisture content than softer cheeses, a result of the pressure used to pack the curds into molds and the length of time the cheese is aged.

Paste
Everything that appears within the rind of a cheese. In French, this is referred to as the pâte (pronounced pat).

Pâte (PAT)
Everything that appears within the rind of a cheese. In English, this is often referred to as the "paste."

PDO
(Protected Designation of Origin) This distinct logo created by the European Union guarantees that a product is produced, prepared and processed in a designated geographical area according to specified practices. The PDO cheeses of France are excellent products that are part of the French gastronomic and cultural heritage. 45 of the 49 AOC dairy products of France were approved by the European Union and thus, received the Protected Designation of Origin label; As of May 1st 2009, they joined the more than 156 PDO European dairy products.

Présure (pray SOOR)
Also known as rennet, an enzyme used in the cheese-making process to separate curds from whey.

Semi-soft cheese
Most semi-soft cheese has higher moisture content than semi-hard and hard cheese.

Soft-ripened cheese
Created by allowing white mold to grow on the outside of a soft cheese, soft-ripened cheese is aged from the outside in.

Sommelier (so mah lee YAY)
The manager of wine service at a hotel or restaurant. Also known as a wine steward.

Terroir (teh WAHR)
The influence of climate, vegetation, water and soil on the raw source milk used to make the fine cheeses of France, combined with specific production techniques and traditions passed down through generations of accomplished cheese makers.

Tomme (tohm)
A small round of mountain cheese.

Washed-rind cheese
Like soft-ripened cheeses, washed-rind cheeses ripen from the outside in, but are also periodically washed with a solution of mold-bearing agents, such as salt water, beer, wine, or brandy.







  • Abondance
  • Beaufort
  • Bethmale
  • Bleu d'Auvergne
  • Bleu de Gex
  • Brie
  • Brillat-Savarin
  • Brocciu
  • Camembert
  • Cantal
  • Chaource
  • Comté
  • Coulommiers
  • Delice de Bourgogne
  • Emmental
  • Époisses
  • Fourme d'Ambert
  • Fromager d'Affinois
  • Goat's Milk
  • Laguiole
  • Langres
  • Livarot
  • Mimolette
  • Mont d'Or
  • Morbier
  • Munster
  • Neufchâtel
  • Ossau-Iraty
  • Pont l'Evêque
  • Port Salut
  • Raclette
  • Reblochon
  • Roquefort
  • Saint Agur
  • Saint-Félicien
  • Saint-Marcellin
  • Saint-Nectaire
  • Salers
  • Tomme de Savoie

  • Alsace
  • Auvergne
  • Burgundy
  • Champagne
  • Corsica
  • Franche-Comté
  • Ile de France
  • Loire Valley
  • Midi-Pyrenees
  • Normandy
  • Pas-de-Calais
  • Pays Basque
  • Rhone-Alpes/Savoie

Cheese Plate Secrets

  • Affinage
  • Affineur
  • AOC
  • Artisanal
  • Bistro
  • Bleu
  • Brebis
  • Bûche
  • Chèvre
  • Fondue
  • Fromage
  • Fromager
  • Fromagerie
  • Fruitière
  • Hard cheese
  • Paste
  • Pâte
  • PDO
  • Présure / rennet
  • Semi-soft cheese
  • Soft-ripened cheese
  • Sommelier
  • Terroir
  • Tomme
  • Washed-rind cheese