French Cheese vs. Italian Cheese

Cheese is one of life's great pleasures. This beloved dairy product enhances flavors, provides nutrients, and brings joy to meals around the world.

French Cheese vs. Italian Cheese

When it comes to cheese, two countries stand above the rest - France and Italy. Both nations produce a stunning variety of exceptional cheeses rooted in local tradition.

But whose cheeses are better- France or Italy?

French and Italian Cheeses

France and Italy take cheesemaking seriously, as the numbers show:


  • 350-450 types of cheese
  • Most famous: Brie, Camembert, Roquefort (blue cheese)
  • Also produces goat cheeses like Chabichou du Poitou


  • Over 2500 traditional cheese varieties
  • Only France and Germany produce more cheese by volume
  • Most famous: Mozzarella, Gorgonzola (blue), Mascarpone, Pecorino, Parmigiano-Reggiano

Both countries excel at making cheese from local ingredients that reflect regional terroir. But with thousands more types to choose from, Italy emerges as the clear winner for sheer cheese diversity.

Key Takeaway: Italy has over 6 times more traditional cheese varieties than France - 2500 vs. 350-450. This gives Italy an edge when it comes to cheese options.

French Cheeses - Refined and Diverse

France's refined palate shines through in its lovingly crafted cheeses. Time-honored techniques blend with milk from contented cows, goats and sheep to create complex flavors.

Soft Cheeses

Camembert, Brie and triple cream cheeses like Brillat-Savarin ooze decadence. Their smooth, rich textures and tang make them excellent table cheeses or dessert pairings. Other soft French cheeses like Reblochon and Livarot become wonderfully gooey when warmed.

Washed Rind Cheeses

The French don't shy away from pungent cheeses! Washing soft cheeses in brine or alcohol allows flavor-packed rinds to develop. From mild Pont l'Évêque to the barnyard funk of Maroilles, washed rinds offer a world of diverse aromas and tastes.

Blue Cheeses

No one does blue better than France. Roquefort, Bleu d'Auvergne and Fourme d'Ambert get their trademark blue veins and spicy kick from the magical Penicillium roqueforti mold. Other French blue cheeses like Bleu de Gex and Bleu des Causses also dazzle the palate.

Goat Cheeses

Creamy, tangy French goat cheeses earned their stellar reputation for good reason. Varieties like Saint-Maure de Touraine, Crottin de Chavignol and Valençay offer the quintessential goat cheese experience - especially when fresh.

Alpine Cheeses

In the French Alps, nutty Beaufort, Comté and Abondance emerge after months of aging to become complex and concentrated. Heartier mountain cheeses stand up to cold weather while offering plenty of flavor.

What Sets French Cheese Apart?

France's long cheesemaking history shapes its offerings today. Strict rules govern production of many cheeses tied to their town or region of origin. Raw milk and traditional practices also set French cheeses apart.

By perfecting time-honored techniques generation after generation, France created cheeses brimming with refinement and complexity. Even familiar styles like Brie or goat cheese become truly unforgettable when made à la française.

Italian Cheeses - Diverse Traditions Across Regions

Italy's rich regional diversity stays strong in its proud cheesemaking traditions. Local cheeses form part of Italy's cultural identity and connect people to their ancestral lands. With over 2500 types made from cow, sheep and goat milk, Italy offers cheeses for every palate.

Fresh and Soft Cheeses

Creamy burrata, stringy mozzarella and rich stracchino all beg to be drizzled with olive oil and enjoyed immediately. Air-dried cheeses like fresh pecorino highlight milk's sweetness balanced by a pleasant tang.

Brined Cheeses

Before refrigeration, bathing cheeses in salt brine allowed them to keep for months. Today traditional brined varieties like Pecorino Romano and Canestrato Pugliese remain hallmarks of Italian cheese. Their salty savor perfectly balances fresh, sweet flavors.

Goat and Sheep Milk Cheeses

The steep terrain of Southern Italy suits hardy goats and sheep whose rich milk creates iconic cheeses. From Sardinia, sharp, crumbly Pecorino Sardo and semi-soft Fiore Sardo tantalize the tongue. In Sicily, Ragusano DOP's firm paste holds up to grating when aged.

Pasta Filata Cheeses

Unique pasta filata (stretched curd) cheeses like mozzarella melt exceptionally well thanks to their stringy texture. Water buffalo milk gives Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP incredible sweetness to balance its pleasant sourness. Ovoline and Caciocavallo also shine as melting cheeses full of flavor.

Aged and Blue Cheeses

Given time, Italian cheeses develop haunting depth and complexity. Gorgonzola Piccante DOP teases the palate with spicy blue notes while Grana Padano's 16 months of aging creates delicate, crumbly crystals. Tuscan sheep milk cheese pecorino, some aged over 5 years, offers notes of caramel and spice.

What Makes Italian Cheese Special?

From the Alpine north to Sicily's shores, making cheese forms part of local economy and food culture everywhere across Italy. Strict rules govern cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano tied to their historic region.

This deep connection to place gives the best real Italian cheeses an inimitable sense of terroir. Generations of producers passing down time-perfected techniques also helps artisanal varieties shine. With so many diverse specialties, Italian cheese offers a world of flavors waiting to be discovered.

Comparing Key Characteristics

Beyond cheese diversity, what distinguishes French and Italian cheeses from each other? Here are some key flavor and texture differences:

French CheeseItalian Cheese
Often subtle, refined flavorsRobust, intense flavors common
Goat cheeses tends to be mildGoat/sheep milk cheese quite tangy
Washed rind cheeses deeply aromaticBrined cheeses spotlight salt, spice
Almost all use pasteurized milkMany DOP use raw/unpasteurized milk
Short aging periodsAged styles like Parmigiano-Reggiano
Moderate saltiness typicalSaltiness varies widely
Diverse texturesMany stretched curd and brined cheeses

Of course, with thousands of varieties in each country, cheeses will vary. But these profiles help capture the French vs. Italian cheesemaking styles overall.

Settling the Debate - Who Makes the Best Cheese?

Italy offers vastly more cheese diversity with over 400 officially designated cheeses from diverse milk types across every region. Strict traditional production rules govern famous cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano just as in France.

But France also creates exquisite and refined cheeses thanks to generations perfecting beloved varieties. Practices like using raw milk and long aging also help French cheeses shine.

Ultimately both countries make world-class cheeses rooted in a profound connection to local culture and cuisine. The cheese lover wins when these cheese capitals share their creations!

While Italy likely deserves the crown for most cheese varieties, France undoubtedly makes some of the world's finest.

Key Takeaway: Italy and France both produce exceptional cheeses. Italy takes the edge for diversity but France also creates specialties with finesse. Calling it a tie between these cheese capitals lets everyone win!


How do I pick between French and Italian cheeses?

Tasting different styles side by side helps you discover new favorites! For special occasions, try splurging on a cheese tasting platter with French and Italian varieties. At cheese shops, ask for samples so you can try before you buy.

Which country uses better quality milk for cheese?

Milk quality plays a huge role in cheesemaking. Fortunately, both French and Italian dairies benefit from excellent terrain that helps cows, goats and sheep produce superb milk. Strict rules also govern milk quality, especially for regulated cheeses. This ensures rich, flavorful milk becomes delicious cheese.

Should I choose cheeses based on region?

Seeking out cheeses from specific regions lets you taste how local environment and tradition shape flavors. Comparing cheeses across France and Italy shows how unique every area's offerings are thanks to factors like breed, feed, altitude and aging. Let your travel destinations or ancestries guide you as you explore all the cheese regionality has to offer!

What wine pairs best with French cheeses?

The refined flavors of French cheeses love fruity, acidic wines. Dry whites like unoaked Chablis complement soft cheeses. Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru's red fruits mirror washed rinds like Époisses de Bourgogne. Bubbles also work wonderfully - try Crémant d’Alsace with buttery Munster.

What wine goes with Italian cheeses?

The higher acidity of Italian reds synergizes beautifully with the salt and spice of Italian cheeses. Dry Chianti Classicos and ruby-hued Barberas shine with hard grating cheeses. Try an Amarone della Valpolicella with Robiola due Latti or nutty Grana Padano. Bubbly Proseccos and Moscatos refresh the palate alongside fresh Mozzarella or Burrata.


Comparing French and Italian cheeses proves a difficult task. Each country makes hundreds of beloved varieties reflecting diverse local cultures and foodways.

Instead of deciding who makes better cheese, embrace the differences in terroir and tradition that make Gallic and Italian fromage special in their own right.

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!