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The art of cutting and serving cheese

· French Etiquette

Charles de Gaulle, former President of France, famously once complained « How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese ? »

Unfortunately the map is not big enough to make them all fit in...

Cheese is like a religion in France. And you certainly don’t want to upset its gods, do you ? Today, let’s learn how to cut into all kinds of cheese !

When to eat cheese ?

Cheese is typically enjoyed at the end of the meal, after the main dish and before the dessert. It may be accompanied by a salad and will always be served together with bread !

In Italy, it is common to enjoy cheese before starting the meal, during the aperitivo, together with cured meats or other delicacies.

How to serve cheese ?

Before preparing the meal, the host will go to the local cheese shop (« le fromager ») and pick different varieties.

A typical cheese counter : which ones would you chose ?

It is best to take out the cheese from the fridge at least 30 minutes before eating it, so that it can be served at room temperature.

A nice cheese platter will always makes the guests happy

Each guest will receive a clean plate for the cheese, together with an individual knife. A basket of slices of fresh bread will be passed around the table.

How to cut cheese ?

Knives are different for soft and for hard cheese. Use them accordingly !

You will cut using one or several cheese knives which are placed onto the cheese platter. After cutting a piece of cheese, you will place it into your plate first – not on your piece of bread. Once you are done, put the cheese knife back on the cheese platter.

Why is it important to know how to cut cheese ?

Like many other food, it is important that cheese is shared evenly among the guests. Every guest shall enjoy an equal quantity of paste and crust.

Round cheeses

Let’s begin with the round and circular cheeses, such as Camembert, Reblochon or Brie. These are always cut in equal portions, from the inside to the outside of the cheese.

If the piece of cheese is coming from a larger circular whole cheese, you should start by cutting from the heart horizontally until you reach half of the way. Then you should cut along the side.

Hard cheeses

For hard cheeses such as Comté, Beaufort or Emmental, start to cut slices parallel to the crust, starting from the heart. Once you reach the middle, cut triangles to share the crust evenly.

Blue cheeses

For this kind of cheese (Roquefort, Bleu d’Auvergne…), each guest must have the same quantity of blue and edgy parts. You will thus follow a kind of fan-shaped cut.

Pyramidal cheeses

Pouligny-Saint-Pierre or Valençay cheeses have this kind of shape and require thin slices that goes from the top all the way until the bottom, starting from the center.

Cylindrical cheeses

Goat cheeses such as Sainte-Maure de Touraine have this shape and shall be cut in simple parallel slices, starting from one side of the cheese.

Which wine to enjoy with cheese ?

Although red wine is traditionnally associated with cheese (66% of the French prefer to drink red wine with cheese), white wines pair better, as tannins found in red wine tend to clash with the acidity of cheese.

This will be enough cheese etiquette tips for today. We hope you will remember them and impress your guests with your perfect table manners in the future !

Founded in 2018 by Matthieu Ventelon, Hedonia is the first institution in China combining professional Wine and Etiquette expertise in the same training offer.

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