Wine and Cheese in the French Culture

645 words | 3 page(s)

France is a country as distinct as its wines and cheeses. The French love their wine and cheese. They are staples in the French culture and have been for centuries. Their government grants certification for wine and cheese under their bureau Institut National de l’Orgine et de la qualite (INOA). The certification called Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) is granted to products that conform to a set of exclusive standards. It includes a surveillance process to make sure that any wine that claims a region that it was produced in, really was produced in that region (Hanson).

In order to use the AOC label the product must be produced and aged in a classic way with ingredients from specific producers in designated regions. It is identified by a seal that is printed on the label on French wines and cheeses. In other words, the label identifies the authentication of wines and cheeses and where they came from, as every region of France has its own particular wines and cheeses (Wine-Searcher). The AOC is a quality mark because it is linked with the natural components and the product’s characteristics (Celine, 6).

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Terrior, the taste of place, is an important concept of French cheeses and wines. The combination of soil, climate, and traditions influence the taste and character of them. Different regions specialize in different flavors according to what is able to grow there. Because of cultural history most wines and cheeses in France are specific to a certain region. This is because of the geographical differences between the regions and of cultural history (Hanson). Cheese has been made for many centuries in France using the milk of cows, goats, and sheep.

An important part of the French diet is wine and cheese. Adults there drink wine in the middle of the day with their lunch, although it is not over indulged in. Wine is a common part of the French dining table. Adults go out to lunch together and a glass or two is considered a common practice. One can drink in France legally at the age of 18. The age was raised in 2006 from 16 to 18. Drinking alcohol there is not seen as a disgrace there as compared to the United States. Consuming alcohol is a norm in French culture. “Additionally, youth drinking has gone back 100s of years, and it is something that is shared with the whole family” (Drinkingmap).

It is a French dining etiquette that “one should wait to have their glass refilled by someone else at the table. With cheese, it’s the opposite. A platter of cheese will be passed around the table and you should take some of each cheese that you would like to eat and put it on your plate” (Hanson). Meals could be considered sacred there, where in the United States we consider food as energy for us, there you eat and drink because of good food, good wine, and good company.

Cheese and wine play a special role in French culture. Their meals are not just about eating the food or drinking the wine, it is the social practice around it. Their meals are part of their culture and identity, and has been for years and will be for years to come. The French government plays a role by not only establishing a drinking age but also by granting certification for wines and cheeses under the INOA by the quality mark of the AOC. This ensures the authentication of the wines and cheeses in France.

  • “A Guide to France.” About-France. n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2013.
  • Celine, Albert. “The Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) and other Official
    Product Identification Standards.” Sept. 1998. University of Kentucky. Web. 28 Dec. 2013.
  • “Drinking-Age-in-France.” Drinkingmap. 2013. Cleveland State University. Web. 28 Dec. 2013.
  • Hanson, Rachel. “History of French Wine and Cheese.” french.lovetoknow. n.d. LoveToKnow Corp. Web. 28 Dec. 2013.
  • “French Wine.” Wine-Searcher. Wine Searcher. 1999-2013. Web. 28 Dec. 2013.

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