Today we welcome Jennifer Greco as our guest blogger! Jennifer is a cheese educator based in Paris and we hosted an event with her this fall on perfecting your cheese board. She has a personal project: to taste each and every one of France's almost 1,500 cheeses, which has led her to spend hours and hours tasting, studying and contemplating this delicious subject. Jennifer is going to share her secret to pairing cheese and wine. Hint: it’s not what you think!

If your go-to pairing with cheese is red wine, I would like to suggest a fabulous alternative…bubbles!

A glass of bubbly is so often associated with celebrating a special event that these wines are frequently overlooked as food-friendly partners. Take it from me, cheese loves sparkling wine! And I’m not just talking about champagne. France also offers a variety of sparkling regional options called crémants that are produced in almost every corner of l’Hexagone.
Many of them are just as delightful and can be a much more affordable alternative.


So what’s the difference between champagne and crémant?


Due to the stringent rules regulating champagne’s production methods, grape varietals and terroir, these wines can only be produced in the Champagne region in the north of France. Once you hop over the region’s border to Bourgogne or Alsace, travel east to the Jura and Savoie, or head south to the Loire Valley, Bordeaux, the Languedoc-Roussillon and the Rhône Valley, the sparkling wines are called crémants. They are made in the same style as champagne, the “méthode traditionnelle” and can use the same grapes as champagne, but often use regional grapes as well.

How to pair cheese with sparkling wine?


In general, the stronger the cheese, the stronger the sparkling wine can be. Additionally, when pairing bubbles and cheese, an important thing to consider is the dryness of the wine. Many labels identify how sweet the wine is, but the terms can be perplexing:

Brut Nature is the driest.
Extra-Brut is still very dry but has a tiny bit more sugar than brut nature.
Brut is the most common and it is right in the middle in terms of balance and dryness.
Sec (which means “dry” in French, so this term is confusing) has slightly more sweetness than brut.
Demi-Sec (even more confusing as it means “half dry” in French) is noticeably sweet.
Doux is the sweetest.

So, please don’t wait for a special occasion to pop open a bottle! The next time you plan to enjoy some fromage, let a glass of champagne or crémant become your cheese’s new best friend.


Some of my favorite combinations:


-Ultra-rich double cream Chaource or triple cream Brillat-Savarin or Délice de Bourgogne with an extra brut or brut;
-Creamy, tangy goat cheeses with an extra brut; Nutty, dense Comté, Beaufort or Abondance with a brut;
-Bleu d’Auvergne, Fourme d’Ambert or Roquefort with a demi-sec or doux

Other terms you might find on the label:


Blanc de Blancs is wine made with the juice from white skinned grapes.
Blanc de Noirs is wine made with the juice from purple skinned grapes.

Where to find good cheese in the area:


Trader Joe’s
Curds & co (Brookline)
Formaggio's (Cambridge and South End)

Where to find bubbly wines in the area:


Gordon’s Wine
For 15% off your purchase of any non-sale French wines through Gordonswine.com, contact Cultural Manager Clémence Bary Boloré via email (cbary@frenchlibrary.org) to get the discount code.

Jennifer has shared with us some of her favorite cheese and bubbly wine pairing; what’s yours? Have you ever tried cheese and sparkling wine?

If you want to know more about cheese, follow Jennifer on Instagram.



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