National Wine & Cheese Day – France

July 20th, 2021

One cannot help but think of France when wine and cheese are mentioned together, and it is to no surprise since the history of both French wine and cheese date way back. 

History

One of the major reasons why cheese and wine is so central to French culture is the fact that they have been staples as an element of the French diet for many centuries. Traditionally, people in France would eat a warm meal in the middle of the day and a lighter, cold meal in the evening. This tradition, though now starting to shift, stems from the fact that places (including jobs and schools) would shut down in the middle of the day for a break.

Etiquette of Wine & Cheese

It is considered normal for adults to drink wine in the middle of the day, and it is not uncommon for co-workers to go out for a glass or two of wine during their lunch break. That being said, wine is sipped on throughout lunch or dinner and is typically not overindulged on. According to the dining etiquette of the French you should wait to refill your wine glass until someone else does so, for cheese however you take whichever cheeses you would like to eat from a platter that is passed around the table and put it on your plate. In terms of bread, it tends to lay on the table, not on your plate, and you break off bite-sized pieces to put your cheese on and eat.

Suggested Pairings

It is no surprise that wine and cheese pairings tend to go based on personal preference but there are a few pairings that are considered classics and definitely worth trying:

Chenin Blanc with Brie

Chenin Blanc wines tend to have sharp apple and pear flavors which pair lovely with bries which are fatty, thick cheeses. Bries are delicious, creamy, and fragrant. Oftentimes, served at parties and they’re great at room temperature and have intricate flavors. These types of wine help you cleanse your palate between bites of cheese.

Syrah with Morbier

Syrah is a classic French wine which has dark fruit flavors and pairs well with the more nutty, bitter taste of Morbier. Morbier is a yellowish cheese that has a black line running down the center of it which is the result of ashes when the two layers of cheese are pressed together in a mold. The cheese is soft and slightly elastic and is great as a snack with bread or to put on a cheeseboard.

Sancerre with Goat Cheese

Goat cheese has a strong, distinct flavor to it, though there are many different varieties of it that come from France. Due to its flavor and lasting aftertaste, it is best to pair these cheeses with stronger wines such as Sancerre.

Saturnes with Roquefort

Roquefort is a cheese that is by far not for everyone, being very unique, but it is delicious and used in many French dishes. This cheese has a very intense flavor and is a runny texture while boasting a blue hue. Though typically people tend to not pair very sweet dessert wine with cheeses this pairing is an absolute must! Sauternes wine is made from withered grapes and bursts with flavors of dark honey, dried/candied fruits, and treacly nuts which complements the cheese simply stunningly. It is a pairing that is absolutely noteworthy.