This French cheese feature is both delicious and adorable. Neufchâtel cheese was created in 1035 in its namesake town in Normandy, France. The soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in the country.
Though Neufchâtel is formed into a variety of shapes, the most common and eye-catching is this heart-shaped form. Legend has it that the Farm girls fell in love with English soldiers during the Hundred Years War. They began making the heart shaped cheeses to demonstrate their love.
Established in 1969, the Neufchâtel AOC encompasses industrial, farm, and artisanal production. The cheese is typically matured for eight to ten weeks, resulting in a dense but creamy center and a soft, bloomy white rind. Yet artisanal versions lean towards a more grainy than creamy texture. Neufchâtel is in the Camembert family of cheeses. It offers yeasty aromas and flavors of butter, grass, hay, and mushrooms, plus a sharp, piquant finish.
How It’s Made
Traditionally in France, Neufchâtel is made with raw, unpasteurized cow’s milk. Once the milk has coagulated for 24-36 hours, the curds are drained off and the remaining paste is pressed. The pressed curd is covered with penicillium candidum, shaped, and left to age for ten days. During the maturation period, the cheese is salted for preservation.
Wine Pairings for Neufchâtel
Blanc de Blancs Champagne makes a great match for Neufchâtel cheese. The crisp texture and weighty body from the secondary fermentation in bottle are perfect for the cheeses’ texture and mild flavors.
For a red wine option, I’d reach for a Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley. Medium-bodied with moderate tannins, Cabernet Franc leads with notes of red fruits, herbs, and a peppery earthiness. These flavors are delicious alongside the mild earthy flavors of the cheeses, while the high acidity of Cabernet Franc contrasts the creaminess of Neufchâtel cheese beautifully.
Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Cava, and Beaujolais would all also be delicious wine pairings for this French cheese.