Everyone has their favourite wine and cheese, here are just a few I recommend that are made in lovely areas of France, perfect for a wander, a chill, a nibble and a sip…
Nothing characterises French cuisine like cheese and wine! Both have been made for centuries in France, it is said that Cantal cheese from the Cantal region in the Auvergne has been enjoyed for at least two millennia and it’s mentioned by Roman historian Pliny the Elder in a document dating back to 1 BC.
There is evidence that wine has been made for almost 2,500 years, not as long as some ancient countries but the French have certainly made up time and enjoy a reputation for producing some of the finest wines in the world in some of the most glorious surroundings.
There’s something special about drinking a wine in the place it is named after… take the bewitchingly pretty hill top village, called Sancerre, in the eastern part of the Loire Valley. It is surrounded by magnificent vineyards growing grapes that make Sancerre wine. The town is home to the Maison des Sancerre, a museum dedicated to spreading the word about the local wine and a great place for a tasting with fabulous views over the vineyards.
Crisp, fresh and utterly delectable, Sancerre is a white wine par excellence which goes well with Crottin de Chavignol cheese which is produced just down the road in very pretty Chavignol.
Legend has it that the word crottin comes from an old French word for sheep droppings!
Be that as it may, these tasty little cheese chunks are delicious. They’re sold at different ages and get more complex with time as they dry out and become smellier and more intense, dense and unctuous. The older cheese gives off an odour of undergrowth that is much prized.
With age, the colour of the cheese changes as a natural mould develops on its rind, turning it from white to light brown and blue. The creamy, nutty young goat’s cheese nuggets are like a clotted cream dream that married a cheese queen. It is luscious – even more so when anointed with a glass of Sancerre wine.
Champagne is served as an aperitif in Champagne and why not, this is the real deal any time, any place, anywhere drink. For maximum pleasure, there’s nothing quite like drinking Champagne in Champagne!
UNESCO recognised Champagne in July 2015 for “Continuing, Organically Evolved Cultural Landscape”, covering the “combined work of Man and Nature” – which all sounds rather dry, but it is a well-deserved accolade for the world’s favourite festive drink.
Follow the Route de Champagne through picturesque villages, marvellous countryside and stunning vineyards to enjoy tastings and meet the growers – it definitely enhances your enjoyment of this sparkling wine.
…and now for something completely different. How about a slice of cheese that really packs a punch?
Vieux Boulogne was tested by scientists in the UK who were attempting to categorise the smelliest cheeses in the world, this creamy, cow’s milk cheese took first prize. Pungent, powerful and pugnacious – you never forget your first time!
They say it’s the beer that the rind is washed in that causes the aroma that you cannot avoid when you’re passing near the shop of famous cheese affineur (a cheese maturing specialist) Philippe Olivier in Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Enjoy it with a glass of local beer and a picnic on the cliff tops of the beautiful and uncrowded Opal Coast of northern France.
Photo credit: Tourisme Sancerre