France is certainly in the forefront of cheese manufacturing, with over 500 varieties of cheeses that are made in this region alone! While many of these cheeses are of the soft variety, French cheeses can actually be a healthy alternative to some of the cheese favorites that are frequently served in the United States. French cheeses are lower in fat while packing in the flavor because of the higher water content in soft cheeses that actually keeps the fat count at a reasonable level.
These delicious varieties of cheese can be a great choice for everyday, by using them in pasta dishes and sprinkled into salads. They also work well for entertaining, on platters offering a variety of cheeses with crackers and crusty breads for spreading.
French Cheese and Other Foods
French cheeses make a nice complement to a number of different types of food, including breads, fruits and honey. Soft cheeses like the popular brie taste delicious when paired with fruits like blackberries or figs. Blue cheeses work well with a number of fruits, as well as a variety of nuts for maximum flavor and variety. Try a salad sprinkled with blue cheese and chopped walnuts for a delicious topping.
Semi-hard French cheeses are delightfully paired with fruits like pineapple, kiwi and cherries. Chutneys are another nice complement to many of the cheeses today, and you can make your own or buy them in a variety of gourmet shops. Try placing a bowl of chutney next to your cheese platter for guests to serve themselves.
French Cheese and Wine
It is hard to think about the delicious French cheeses without considering which wine is the best pairing. Wine and cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly, but the question always becomes which wine is the right choice? Red wines are often the clear choice with French cheeses, but there are many white selections that will work equally well.
The best rule of thumb to keep in mind is to avoid a wine that is too light to mix with the pungent aromas and flavors of the cheeses that you will be serving. It is also a good idea to limit the number of choices in cheeses that you place on your platter to ensure that the ones you select will work best with your wine selection.
Stronger cheese flavors will require a more full-bodied wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Shiraz. On the other hand, softer cheeses can be quite nice with a lighter and fruitier wine like Beaujolais.
When in doubt about the right wine to serve with your French cheese platters, ask someone at your local liquor mart for advice. Many of these stores will offer wine experts that will answer all of your questions.