Because it is such an important part of the French diet and culture, cheese making has a language of its own. Here are some terms that relate to the process and people involved in The Cheeses of Europe.

Affinage (AH fee nahj)

The process of aging or ripening cheese in carefully controlled environments.

Affineur (AH fee noor)

The "cheese ager" is responsible for the care and handling of cheese during the aging process.

AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée)

Controlled Designation of Origin, AOC is a logo that guarantees to the consumer that the cheese is produced, prepared and processed following strict rules in the geographical region mentioned.

Artisanal (ar TEE zan ul)

The French word used to describe a cheese that is made by hand rather than by machine.

Bistro (BEE stro)

A bistro is a friendly neighborhood restaurant, where you can always enjoy cheeses of France.

Bleu (bluh)

The French word for blue.

Brebis (BREH bee)

The French word for ewe, it also refers to cheese made from ewe's milk.

Bûche (BOOSH)

The French word for log.

Chèvre (SHEV ruh)

Cheese made from goat's milk. Chèvre is the French word for goat.

Fondue (fon DOO)

From the French word fondre, meaning "to melt," fondue is a shared dish usually comprised of cheese or chocolate, although the term was originally used with cheese.

Fromage (fro MAHJ)

The French word for cheese.

Fromager (fro mahj EHR)

A cheese seller, a cheese expert or a cheese retailer.

Fromagerie (fro mahj eh REE)

A storefront devoted to cheese with a specialty in traditional, artisanal cheeses.

Fruitière (fru tee EHR)

Cheese-making cooperative specific to the Franche-Comte and Savoie mountains.

Hard cheese

Hard cheese has a lower moisture content than softer cheeses, a result of the pressure used to pack the curds into molds and the length of time the cheese is aged.


Everything that appears within the rind of a cheese. In French, this is referred to as the pâte (pronounced pat).

Pâte (PAT)

Everything that appears within the rind of a cheese. In English, this is often referred to as the "paste."


(Protected Designation of Origin) This distinct logo created by the European Union guarantees that a product is produced, prepared and processed in a designated geographical area according to specified practices. The PDO cheeses of France are excellent products that are part of the French gastronomic and cultural heritage. 45 of the 49 AOC dairy products of France were approved by the European Union and thus, received the Protected Designation of Origin label; As of May 1st 2009, they joined the more than 156 PDO European dairy products.

Présure (pray SOOR)

Also known as rennet, an enzyme used in the cheese-making process to separate curds from whey.

Semi-soft cheese

Most semi-soft cheese has higher moisture content than semi-hard and hard cheese.

Soft-ripened cheese

Created by allowing white mold to grow on the outside of a soft cheese, soft-ripened cheese is aged from the outside in.

Sommelier (so mah lee YAY)

The manager of wine service at a hotel or restaurant. Also known as a wine steward.

Terroir (teh WAHR)

The influence of climate, vegetation, water and soil on the raw source milk used to make the fine cheeses of France, combined with specific production techniques and traditions passed down through generations of accomplished cheese makers.

Tomme (tohm)

A small round of mountain cheese.

Washed-rind cheese

Like soft-ripened cheeses, washed-rind cheeses ripen from the outside in, but are also periodically washed with a solution of mold-bearing agents, such as salt water, beer, wine, or brandy.