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The World Famous Roquefort Cheese (And Some Wine Pairing Suggestions)

Who doesn’t love a good cheese?

That’s a bit of a sweeping statement but you can’t deny that cheese is also one of the most popular foods in the world.

Of course, you also have to think about all of the different types of cheeses that are available. Every single country has a few of its own and the tastes are almost as varied as they are for Italian wine.

You may like one type of cheese but not like another, just like you may enjoy a certain vintage of wine but don’t enjoy another.

When it comes to all of these different varieties of cheese, there’s perhaps none as polarising as blue cheese.

Some people love this type of cheese due to its strong aroma and powerful taste. But those very same qualities could also lead to somebody absolutely hating this type of cheese. 

There are many types of blue cheese available, including famous varieties like Stilton and Gorgonzola. But for the true cheese connoisseur, there’s perhaps no better choice than the legendary Roquefort.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at this famous cheese before suggesting a few wine pairings that work well with it.

What’s in a Cheese?

As we mentioned, Roquefort is a blue cheese.

It hails from the south of France and it was the first cheese to receive certification from France’s Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). You can think of this organisation as being similar to Italy’s DOC, only it regulates the production of cheese.

A typical Roquefort has several qualities that make it stand out. Firstly, you have the obvious blue veins that are characteristic of this type of cheese. These may look unappetising to some, but they’re obviously not real veins. Instead, they’re an after-effect of the production methods used to make the cheese.

To the taste, Roquefort is somewhat acidic and tangy. This can make it a difficult cheese to pair with wine, not least because it mirrors some of the qualities that you might expect to find in several types of wine.

The characteristic odour is probably the first thing that you’ll notice about the cheese. And as we said earlier, this unique smell often makes or breaks your relationship with the cheese. For some, the aroma is like a siren’s call that lures them in. For others, it’s a smell that’s so pungent that they feel like they need to escape from it as soon as possible.

If you do decide to venture in for a taste, you’ll find that the cheese crumbles very easily. This is not a smooth cheese, like Cheddar. It’s also a fairly moist cheese, which can also put people off.

But assuming none of this puts you off, with Roquefort you get to experience a cheese with a deep and interesting history behind it.

In fact, there is a famous legend that the French tell about this cheese.

According to the tale, Roquefort was discovered by a young boy. The child was eating a lunch of ewe’s milk cheese and bread when his eye caught something in the distance. Straining to get a better look, he realised that it was a beautiful girl who’d caught his eye.

He wanted to go to here. But he also had his meal to think about. The legend goes that the boy left his meal in a nearby cave and sprinted over to talk to the girl. So enraptured was he by her beauty that he utterly forgot about the cheese that he’d left behind.

That is…until a few months later.

That’s when the boy found himself back at the cave, where he spotted the meal he’d abandoned. Obviously, the bread had moulded itself into oblivion. However, the moulding process had done something completely different to the cheese.

It has turned his plain cheese into what would become known as Roquefort. 

It’s a fanciful tale and one that we can’t help but get behind. And with Roquefort being so old as to have supposedly been praised by Pliny the Elder nearly 2,000 years ago, it’s easy to see how this piece of folklore spread.

Unfortunately, what’s more likely to have happened is that a cheesemaker somewhere was experimenting and allowed their cheese to sit for a long while. The resulting product, and the mould that it developed, became the tangy Roquefort that we know today.

Of course, all of this is very interesting. But what if you’re thinking about trying the cheese yourself. You’re going to want a glass of wine to go along with that meal and we have several recommendations that should fit the bill.

Sauternes

A sweet wine from Bordeaux, we’re recommending this one here because it complements the acidic tones and tanginess of the cheese almost perfectly. A good Sauternes has just the right amount of sweetness to take the edge off the cheese without destroying it flavour.

If you can’t get your hands on a Sauternes, any other sweet wine from the Bordeaux region should do the job. After all, it’s form this region that the cheese comes, so there are plenty of winemakers who wish to make drinks to complement it.

Barolo

If you’re looking to pair up with an Italian wine, we believe that the King of Wines itself is an excellent choice.

Sure, it doesn’t have the sweetness that we recommended earlier. However, Barolo is a dry wine, which always works well with a moist cheese like Roquefort. The complex tones of the wine also help to dull the tanginess of the cheese without getting rid of it entirely.

If you find Roquefort a little strong for your tastes, this is a good wine for redressing the balance.

The Final Word

Of course, we’ve only made a couple of suggestions here. There are many other wines that go well with Roquefort and blue cheeses in general.

You’ll find plenty of them in the Xtrawine store. Just check out the huge variety of wines that we have from many different countries and we’re sure you’ll find something that you like.

HIGHLIGHT

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