Bon Vivant Cheese Vs. Brie

Bon Vivant and Brie are two classic soft-ripened French cheeses with creamy textures and mild, buttery flavors.

Bon Vivant Cheese Vs. Brie

While they share some similarities, there are also key differences that distinguish these cheeses.

Origins and Background

Bon Vivant

Bon Vivant is a relatively new creation, developed in the 1990s by French cheesemaker Rodolphe Le Meunier. He set out to produce a soft-ripened cheese capturing the essence of the Loire Valley, using local ingredients and traditional techniques.

The name "Bon Vivant" means "good living" in French, reflecting the cheese's indulgent nature. Production occurs at Le Meunier's small creamery, Fromagerie Le Meunier, in the town of Noyant-la-Gravoyère.

Bon Vivant emerges with a signature mushroomy aroma and rich, buttery flavor after carefully aging for 4-5 weeks. Its smooth, glistening white rind results from frequent washings with Loire Valley Vouvray wine.


Brie dates back centuries, with origins in the French regions of Brie and Île-de-France surrounding Paris. The Capetian kings first enjoyed Brie as a tasty tribute.

Only two cheeses can officially bear the name Brie - Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun. These Bries Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP) cheeses follow stringent standards.

Brie de Meaux comes from the Seine-et-Marne area and was historically served at the French royal court. Brie de Melun originates near the town of Melun.

Other Brie-style cheeses adopt distinct names like Brie de Montereau, Brie de Nangis, and Brie de Provins. These also originate in Île-de-France but don't have AOP status.

Authentic Brie receives frequent washings with brine or mold cultures during 3-4 weeks of aging. This encourages the signature bloomy rind to develop.

Key Takeaway: Bon Vivant is a modern cheese created in the Loire Valley in the 1990s, while Brie has centuries of history near Paris and official AOP designations.

Production and Aging

Bon Vivant and Brie rely on similar cheesemaking steps but differ in specific details.

Process Overview

Cheesemakers begin by culturing warmed cow's milk with rennet to trigger coagulation into soft curds. The curds are gently drained without cutting, preserving a silky texture.

After draining, the curds are ladled into molds and allowed to rest, expelling remaining whey. Softening agents may be added to enhance the texture.

The young cheeses then age for several weeks in temperature and humidity-controlled cellars. Frequent washings, saltings, and turnings throughout aging encourage the rind to bloom.

Bon Vivant Production

Bon Vivant uses pasteurized milk from Montbéliarde cows grazing in the Loire Valley. Cheesemakers add mesophilic cultures and rennet to coagulate the milk into a custard-like texture.

Once drained, the curds are placed in molds resembling short, squat wheels roughly 5 inches tall and 4 inches wide. Aging lasts around 4-5 weeks.

Washings with Marc de Bourgogne brandy and Vouvray wine lend Bon Vivant its signature aroma and flavor. The frequent, meticulous aging regimen yields the velvety, bloomy rind.

Brie Production

Only raw milk from specific breeds in select Île-de-France pastures can produce AOP Brie. Cheesemakers use animal rennet for coagulation.

The drained curds are ladled into molds forming wider, flatter wheels around 1-2 inches tall and 7-8 inches across. Brie ages for a minimum of 3 weeks but may be aged for longer.

Brine or Penicillium candidum mold solutions are typically used to wash Brie during aging. This encourages the white rind to bloom fully.

Key Takeaway: While both use a similar base process, Bon Vivant and Brie differ in aging times, washings, size, and milk types. This affects their final characteristics.


At first glance, Bon Vivant and Brie look somewhat alike due to their soft white rinds and round shapes. However, a closer inspection reveals visual differences.

Bon Vivant Appearance

Bon Vivant wheels are small and compact, around 4-5 inches wide by 2 inches tall. The rind is white, bloomy, and wrinkly with splotches of gray mold throughout.

The interior paste ranges from chalky white to pale yellow depending on age. When cut, the cheese oozes a viscous cream.

Young Bon Vivant is dense but softens considerably with age, becoming almost spreadable. A reddish-brown layer may develop under longer aging.

Brie Appearance

Brie wheels are wider and flatter than Bon Vivant, spanning 7-8 inches wide by just 1-2 inches tall. The rind is pristine white and powdery when young.

The paste of Brie is ivory to pale yellow and oozes gently when cut. More aged versions become runnier nearing the rind. The center remains firmer.

Brie's rind turns golden in spots and darker brown flavors develop with prolonged aging. The color should remain relatively uniform.

Key Takeaway: Bon Vivant has a compact, squatter shape with a wrinkled rind, while Brie is wider with a pristine white rind when young. Their pastes also differ in color.


Texture is a key point of divergence between these two cheeses.

Bon Vivant Texture

Even when aged, Bon Vivant retains a dense, clay-like texture just under its rind. This contrasts elegantly with the ooze of the center.

The creamy center strikes a balance, being fluid but not runny. Bon Vivant is buttery smooth rather than silky.

The wrinkly rind of Bon Vivant is moldy and mushroomy. The leathery layer beneath adds delightful contrast to the lush middle.

Brie Texture

The bloomy Penicillium candidum rind of Brie is downy and velvety when young. The paste beneath is silky, smooth, and supple.

Well-aged Brie becomes very runny and oozy near the rind, though the center remains firmer. The texture melts over the tongue.

The rind's flavor is milder and more subtle than Bon Vivant's. Brie lacks the clay-like firmness beneath the rind.

Key Takeaway: Bon Vivant has a denser, clay-like firmness under its wrinkly rind contrasting a lush center, while Brie is silky smooth and becomes very runny with age.

Flavor Profile

Being washed-rind cheeses, Bon Vivant and Brie share the general flavor profile of bloomy-rind cheeses but differ in their precise nuances.

Bon Vivant Flavors

The rind of Bon Vivant contributes robust, earthy flavors - prominent notes of forest mushrooms, wet leaves, and cellar mustiness.

The interior strikes a complex balance of sweet and savory. Butter, cream, and toast mingle with umami savoriness and a hint of nuttiness.

Fruity, floral aromas echo Bon Vivant's Vouvray wine washings. Anise and olive tones also emerge.

Brie Flavors

Brie's rind is more subtle and milder - imparting nuances of fresh white mushrooms, delicate earth, and a trace of ammonia.

The smooth paste tastes primarily of pure, sweet cream and fresh butter underscored by a mild nutty or starchy savoriness.

Grassy and lemon notes reflect the pastures grazed by Brie's cows. More mature Bries develop intensified nutty, roasted flavors.

Key Takeaway: Bon Vivant has a robust, complex flavor with earthy rind and fruity notes, while Brie is milder with a subtle rind and pure creaminess.


The indulgent textures and mild flavors of Bon Vivant and Brie make them extremely versatile for pairing.

Bon Vivant Pairings

Fruity wines like Vinho Verde, Riesling, and sparkling wines complement Bon Vivant's fruitiness. Bold beers also pair well.

For food, Bon Vivant loves fruit, especially grapes, apricots, and berries. Hearty breads, nuts, and roast chicken make excellent matches.

Honey and jams, like fig or apricot, balance Bon Vivant's earthiness. Herbs and spices like black pepper, paprika, and chives accent it nicely.

Brie Pairings

Buttery Chardonnay and light, refreshing beers bring out Brie's creamy qualities. Sparkling wines like Champagne elegantly match Brie's luxurious mouthfeel.

Brie adores fruit as well, particularly pears, apples, and figs. Toasted nuts or flaky pastries provide delightful contrast.

Hearty whole grain breads suit Brie's richness. Leafy greens, like arugula and spinach, and tart fruit preserves cut through the fat.

Key Takeaway: Both cheeses pair wonderfully with fruit, bread, and nuts. Bon Vivant matches bold wines and beers, while lighter options suit Brie's delicate profile.


The creamy, spreadable textures of Bon Vivant and Brie make them useful in a variety of ways.

Bon Vivant Uses

Bon Vivant shines on cheese plates and charcuterie boards, especially when paired with fruit, nuts, olives, and cured meats.

In cooking, Bon Vivant boosts sauces, soups, and creamy pasta dishes. Melt it over roasted vegetables or potatoes.

Stuff Bon Vivant into phyllo dough or sear in breaded cheese bites for an indulgent appetizer. Mix into mashed potatoes or polenta.

Brie Uses

Brie is a classic choice for cheese trays, platters, and tarts. Serve it with fruit, crackers, bread, and wine or beer.

Melted Brie makes decadent dips, sandwiches, omelets, gratins, and more. Bake en croûte in puff pastry.

In sauces and soups, Brie provides rich, velvety texture. Poach pears or apples in Brie for a sweet dessert.

Key Takeaway: Both soft and spreadable cheeses excel on boards, in baking/cooking, and for snacking. Brie melts especially beautifully.


Is the rind on Bon Vivant and Brie edible?

Yes, the rinds on both cheeses are completely edible! In fact, the rinds contain lots of flavor and texture, so you'll get the full experience of each cheese by eating the rind.

Can you freeze Bon Vivant or Brie?

Soft cheeses like these don't freeze well. Their high moisture content causes texture degradation upon thawing. Enjoy Bon Vivant and Brie fresh - store in the fridge and consume within 1-2 weeks of purchase.

What is the difference between a Brie and Camembert?

Brie and Camembert undergo a very similar cheesemaking process. However, Camembert is from the Normandy region while Brie is from Île-de-France near Paris. Their sizes, textures, and flavors differ slightly based on factors like animal breeds and geography.

Is Brie healthier than other cheeses?

Some research suggests that Brie may have slightly fewer calories and higher calcium levels compared to some cheeses. However, no cheese variety is necessarily "healthy" or unhealthy - moderation and choosing quality products are key.


Bon Vivant and Brie have clearly conquered the hearts (and palates) of cheese lovers and culinary connoisseurs.

While these soft-ripened cheeses share a lush, creamy character, they have unique backgrounds, production methods, appearances, textures, and nuances.

Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀
Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀

I'm a total cheese fanatic! When I'm not busy studying to be a cheesemaker, you can find me scouring local farmers markets and specialty shops for new and exciting cheeses to try. Brie is my all-time fave, but I also love exploring aged goudas, funky blues, and rich creamy camemberts. Looking forward to sharing lots of melty, gooey cheese pics and reviews!