Europe is home to some of the finest cheesemaking in the world. Thanks to the EU, careful steps are taken to ensure the quality and authenticity of these renowned cheeses. Many of the cows graze entirely or partially on grass which produces higher Omega-3 fatty acids in the milk, which is better for the cows and for our consumption. Aged cheeses are nearly lactose free, while some of the goat ones are rich in vitamins and minerals.

Throughout Europe there are many cheeses that don’t classify in the PDO, so not all cheese is created equal in quality, pairings, and style. Luckily because of the PDO and European Union, we can guarantee the cheeses with their seal of approval are all high quality, a part of serious checks and qualifications, and are all authentically made. PDO is important in cheese as well as other food products and is a geographical indicator which defines where and how a product is made. Very similar to wine, when I discuss AOC’s, AVA’s, DOC’s, and more, cheese and certain agricultural products also have these geographical qualifications.

I had the pleasure of tasting four incredible French cheeses thanks to Cheese of France and Fromage From Europe who sent me a beautiful selection made from Cow’s Milk and Goats Milk. They were all delicious and were ideal for a wine party we were having last week to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It was the perfect selection of cheeses to have out and they were:

1. Fourme D’Ambert, PDO- this is one of the oldest cheese in France! It’s made in the volcanic Auvergne region for more than 1,000 years and is one of the mildest blue cheeses. The cows must graze 150 days a year and in the winter the feed must come from the Auvergne region. It’s honestly so beautiful and so mild, my mother who does not enjoy blue cheeses, loved this one and went back for thirds! We enjoyed this crumbled with some crackers and paired with a Rhone Rose!

2. Langres PDO- this cheese everyone said looked like a “brain” and boy was it sensational! It’s creamy and produced in the Champagne region! Originally this cheese was made by pouring warm cows milk into a terra cotta pot, but now it’s done differently today. It’s bright orange and pale yellow in the center. Normally with this cheese, Champagne is even served inside the concave top… so FUN! This cheese can also pair well with savory foods and even with puff pastry. This dense and creamy cheese has some spice to it and is a petite powerhouse that can pair easily with your favorite sparkling wine!

3. Camembert- one of my favorite baking cheeses with jams and great toppings, known as “brie’s cousin” this mushroomy quintessential French cheese is buttery and smooth and the rind is completely edible; if you didn’t already know! Originally made in Normandy, France where now these cheeses are still made there using raw cows milk, and called “Camembert de Normandie“. Beaujolais would be great with this, however I did not have any with me so we enjoyed this with a fun and fresh Zinfandel and the rest of the Rhone Rose!

4. Aged Chèvre log- This one was a DELIGHT and one of the first French goat cheeses to be imported into the USA! Originating in Western France, it’s sold as a thick slice, and thick it is! It has a “dual texture” essentially cream like on the inside of the rind, while the center is pure smooth goat cheese. It’s a whirlwind of textures and is ideal with some chunky French bread and the rest of the Champagne. If you want a white wine, I absolutely recommend Sauvignon Blanc like Sancerre. For a red, I’d suggest a Cabernet Franc from Loire… if we had one at the party, that’s absolutely what I would have opened to pair.

You can find these cheeses in a good, local cheese store. I highly recommend bringing some new and exciting cheeses to your table this year, as it’s a year of transformation and it’s time to up our cheese game!

Always remember, eat what you like and drink what you love. Pease pair responsibly!