Masterclass: Epoisses AOP

Tasting Epoisses AOP

Cheese Profile:

Taste ProfileTastesDairy FlavoursOther Flavours
Taste & FlavourHigh salt High umami Moderate acid Low sweet Low bitterSavoury creamMeat, Offal (liver), Alcohol, Brothy, Farmyard, Horseradish, Wet straw, Wood smoke, Burnt meat, Burnt wood
MouthfeelTacky, sticky. The rind breaks up quickly with only a light texture.
DescriptionPuck shaped, 3cm high, 10cm in diameter Rind: Orange and wet, rippled and ridged, some vermiculated areas Paste: very yellow in colour, liquid edges with firmer but still broken down centre.  The cheese can collapse under its own weight once opened.

Epoisses is a Burgandy cheese, from the northern Cote d’Or.  It is made without rennet (making it a Lactic Cheese) and washed in the Marc de Bourgogne, a Burgundy spirit made from the pressings of grapes, which contributes to the flavour.

The cheese darkens from white-orange to brown-orange as it ages. The rind can become wet on the surface and then dry, occasionally with white calcium dots on surface.

Cheese making in the area dates back to Cistercian monks in the 16th Century, and Epoisses taken on by local farmers in the 18thC.  The second world war saw it die out, but two brothers called Bertaut restarted production. It is now consumed widely in France and exported worldwide.

Boxing & Packaging

Epoisses is fragile, both in the paste and rind. Epoisses are usually held in a paper wrapper, similar to a cupcake wrapper with no top. The cheese is placed in a Camembert style box, often with the base of the box with the cheese in it encased in film. This allows the cheese to breath to a degree, not be too smelly and for the surface of the cheese to have minimal contact with the packaging.

Non-examinable fun fact

There is rumour around the internet that there is a French law against carrying Epoisses on public transport. There is a grain of truth in it, but it is not a law. There are etiquette or good practice guides for French public transport, and some include warnings about eating smelly cheeses. Some, including camembert and epoisses, are listed as “too strong” for eating on the underground.

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