How France Became the Land of Wine and Cheese

How France became the land of wine and cheese

Evgeny Shmulev, Shutterstock The French are very fond of calling themselves the founders of real cheese making and winemaking, but, strictly speaking, they were far from being the first in these crafts. The inhabitants of France only picked up and managed to bring to a new level what had already been created before them by the Greeks and Romans. However, the French did it in their usual manner – elegantly and so that the whole world would talk about them.

How it was

The first acquaintance of the Gauls with winemaking occurred after the colonization of the province of Southern Gaul in the 5th century BC. e., from there the traditions of distillation began to spread to the regions now known for their wines throughout the world – the Loire Valley, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne. The ancestors of the French learned the traditions of cheese making around the same time, so the main gastronomic symbols of France – wine and cheese – have been produced on these lands for 2.5 thousand years. The most notable contribution to the development of cheese and winemaking was made by the monks, who had time, land, money and, most importantly, a desire to experiment with the tastes and types of vines and milk. Today, creative monks have been replaced by farmers: the wines and cheeses created by them are valued by connoisseurs even more than world-famous brands.

And yet France is considered the birthplace of real winemaking for good reason.

The most famous grape varieties were bred here – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and others. In addition, it was the French who came up with the idea of ​​aging wine in oak barrels, not amphoras, and introduced popular winemaking terms, including appellation and terroir. The history of cheese making without the contribution of the French is also unthinkable: the country gave the world unique cheeses with mold (Roquefort and Bleu d'Auvergne) and soft cheeses in a dense crust (Camembert, Brie de Mo).


  1. The average Frenchman eats 24 kg of cheese a year and drinks 50 liters of wine. For comparison, the Swiss eat 21 kg of cheese per person per year, and the Portuguese drink 62 liters of wine per year.
  2. Wine exports bring France over 8 billion EUR per year. This is more than the annual budget of Paris. Cheese exports bring in a “modest” 3.75 billion EUR.
  3. France is considered the only place where real champagne is produced. This word is allowed to call only sparkling wines created in the Champagne region.
  4. The French are great originals in naming their products and describing their aroma. For example, the French poet Léon Paul-Fargue compared the smell of Camembert to “the smell of God's feet”, and the owner of a small restaurant in Montpellier called one of his drinks Le vin de merde, which literally translates as “shitty wine”.

The most delicious regions of France

The regions where the best wines of France are produced are on everyone's lips. Lovers of sparkling, of course, a direct road to Champagne. Fans of red dry should head to Burgundy, where they make a reference wine from the Pinot Noir grape variety. Provence and Savoy await fans of rosé wines. Unusual straw wine can be tasted in the Jura (Zura) region. And those who want to try red, white, and classic dessert wines should definitely visit Bordeaux.

Savoie is famous for its cheeses: they make semi-hard Beaufort and Bresin, soft blue-bleu cheeses of various types, soft Abbey de Tamie. Original Brie cheeses are made in the Ile-de-France region, soft Livaro and magnificent Camembert are made in Normandy.

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    Something with what

    There are hundreds of varieties of cheese and wine in France. To try everything, perhaps, life is not enough. But you can match one to the other. Champagne goes with fatty cheeses like brie and fragrant camembert, white wines like chardonnay and sauvignon blanc go with cream cheeses made from goat's milk (for example, chevre). The taste of red wines is perfectly complemented by hard and semi-hard spicy cheeses: Comte, Vieux-Lille. The most popular places for wine and cheese tasting in France itself are farmers' markets and private wineries. If you want not only to drink good wine, but also to learn the history of a vine or a winery, learn to distinguish between flavors, you cannot do without a competent sommelier.

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