WHAT IS ÉPOISSES ?
Originally made by monks, Époisses de Bourgogne is a washed rind, cow’s milk cheese. It is often just called “Époisses”. A local pomace (grape leftovers from winemaking) brandy called marc de Bourgogne is used to repeatedly “wash” the cheese. This gives it a distinctive appearance and stinky smell.
WHERE IS ÉPOISSES MADE?
It is from the Burgundy region of France. Or it was. Now after a shotgun marriage in 2016 , this fromage is from the new region of Bourgogne–Franche-Comté.
HOW DO YOU SERVE ÉPOISSES?
Packaged in a wooden box, the cheese when served at room temperature can be soft enough to require a spoon. And like all washed rinds, the interior of the cheese does not have the same strong smell as its exterior. So if serving with fruit, cut slices that can take advantage of this gooeyness. If the washed rind is too pungent for some, cut it off. Like all washed rinds, the interior of the cheese does not have the same strong smell as its exterior.
WHAT CAN I PAIR WITH ÉPOISSES?
In terms of cheese plates, stay away from other washed rinds (unless that is your cheese plate theme, but just know by the end of your party no one likes you). A creamy camembert, a sheep’s milk Basque cheese or a nice English cheddar can pair well. In terms of tasty beverages, dry or sparkling whites (Gewürztraminer or Riesling) or full bodied reds can work surprisingly well. Careful on ciders though, those are tricky to pair with. If you’re creating a French cheese flight, avoid other pungent cheeses and instead try to emphasize contrast. A delicious slice of cave-aged Gruyere and a Parmesan Reggiano can demonstrate various textures with milk from the same animal. Or switch up the milk types, and try a goat’s milk Garrotxa and a sheep’s milk Ossau Iraty.