A Guide to Cheese and Wine in Toulouse
Cheese and wine…do any two words fill a foodie with more excitement? There are hardly any topics in the world of food and drink that inspire more passion, and with passion comes endless specialization and variation. All over the world, cheesemakers and vintners are producing exciting products.
France, though, unquestionably remains one of the capital destinations for wine and cheese enthusiasts. It is estimated that there are between 1,000 and 1,600 distinct French cheeses, from classic varieties that earned their AOC status in the 1950s to newer, 21st-century creations.
The world of wine is no different. France produces 7–8 billion bottles of wine per annum, ranging from record-breakingly expensive rarities to modest table wines as cheap as bottled water. When you’re in France, a world of gastronomic wonder awaits.
Toulouse’s credentials as a foodie center are well known, as we’ve previously discussed with our Best Wine Bars in Toulouse and Typical Foods to Try in Toulouse blogs.
With this in mind, we thought we’d put together a short guide to enjoying wine and cheese in La Ville Rose – where to buy, where to try, and regional varieties to seek out.
Begin with a Toulouse Tour
If you’re new to Toulouse or French wines and cheeses, we recommend beginning your culinary journey with a guided food tour. Join our Victor Hugo Market Tour to explore one of the city’s central meeting points for gourmands of all kinds.
You’ll sample a selection of French specialties – including wine and cheese – backed up by the expertise of an ex-cheesemonger and certified French Wine Scholar. Expand your tasting vocabulary, discover new things, and browse market stalls and stores selling quality products.
You may want to book our Cheese & Wine Tasting for something a little more in-depth. With this tasting experience, you’ll try at least four complex and rewarding varieties of wine and a delectable cheese that’s been carefully paired with each.
If your interest lies in wine specifically, join us for our Toulouse Wine Bar Tour. This is a deep dive into Toulouse’s vibrant wine bar scene. We’ll sample a fabulous assortment of wines and enjoy good company in some of the city’s most atmospheric spots.
Where to Buy Cheese and Wine in Toulouse
Begin with the city’s markets! There’s no better way to appreciate Toulouse’s passion for food and drink than by soaking up the atmosphere in one of its many markets. From historic covered markets to sprawling outdoor street markets, this is an excellent way to get a feel for the character of Toulouse.
Our top choices for the quality and variety of products for sale are the Marché Victor Hugo and Marché des Carmes. Both of these markets have their origins in the 19th century and both are now located inside modern buildings.
Look out for fromageries offering samples of cheese and enjoy a glass of wine on-site when you feel like taking a break – there’s no better place to watch the world go by.
Read our 5 Best Markets in Toulouse blog to learn more.
Wine Shops in Toulouse
Our number one piece of advice for buying wine in Toulouse is to look for a store with an engaged caviste who will help you pick a great bottle for your tastes and needs.
You’ll find cavistes can normally offer enjoyable bottles for around 8-12 euros. A dedicated caviste should take a little extra time to explore the wines with you when exploring more premium options.
Our favorite wine shops in Toulouse: La Cave Spirituelle, Chai Vincent, and l’Envie. Read more about these wine sellers by reading our Guide to Buying Wine in Toulouse.
Cheese Shops in Toulouse
There’s no shortage of cheese sellers in Toulouse, but our number one recommendation has to be Xavier Fromagerie on Place Victor Hugo (with a new additional location in the Marché des Carmes).
It is owned and run by François Bourgon, a Meilleur Ouvrier de France in cheese and son of Xavier, the shop’s original owner and namesake. The shop may be small, but it houses a tremendous selection of quality cheeses, many of which are specially aged by the staff at Xavier.
The staff here are also happy to share their expert knowledge with you – expertise that has gained them numerous awards.
To try something unique, visit La Laiterie Toulousaine. This is a cheese shop and a cheese factory rolled into one. Located in Saint Cyprien, a stone’s throw from the Pont Neuf, La Laiterie Toulousaine’s products are all made on-site.
Indeed, you can observe the cheeses being made and, if you’re particularly eager, you can take a cheese-making class with them!
Fromagerie Betty is also located at Victor Hugo and Carmes and is notable for its subscription cheese service. For a monthly fee, Fromagerie Betty will send you a selection of to-die-for cheeses.
Finally, visit Deux Chavanne to appreciate the true art of cheese making. Some of the locally-made creations in Deux Chavanne resemble desserts, such as the care and creativity that have been put into their production.
Where to Try Wine in Toulouse
Although excellent bottles of wine can be picked up at reasonable prices, finding your feet in the world of wine can be expensive. Given the variety of wines available in a country like France, you will burn a hole in your wallet if you buy a bottle every time you want to sample something new.
This is where wine bars come in, and Toulouse has an amazing array of them!
Take yourself for a drink at Le 5 Wine Bar and you’ll be able to tell your friends you’ve had a drink at the best wine bar in the world. Yes, this establishment has won a dizzying number of prestigious prizes.
Home to over 20,000 bottles of wine and offering over 500 wines by the glass, a few hours in Le 5 Wine Bar is an education in French wine culture. If you want to take the experience a step further, you can even book one of their Oenological Journeys, their on-location course for analyzing wines and identifying complex flavors.
For a more relaxed, casual evening of wine tasting, head to Le Botanique. Found in Toulouse’s hip Saint Cyprien district, this cozy, welcoming wine bar specializes in organic and natural wines.
For those of you for whom an evening of wine wouldn’t be complete without the cheese, we also like to recommend Les Petits Crus, which serves themed flights of 4-6 cheeses paired with specially-chosen wine samples.
Discover more of the wine bars we regularly visit with our Best Wine Bars in Toulouse blog.
Which Wines and Cheese to Look Out For
When looking for Toulouse wines, you’ll want to pay attention to AOPs (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) and IGPs (Indication Géographique Protégée).
These designations determine where wine is produced, the varieties of grapes used, and the creative process followed.
Both classifications will tell you about a wine’s geographic origins, but IGP status carries fewer restrictions in regard to the grapes used in the winemaking process and where they are grown.
Toulouse is surrounded by the greater wine-growing region of Southwest France but is also in close proximity to many wine regions in the Languedoc, which is located further east towards the Mediterranean coast.
Toulouse wines to look for:
Southwest: Gaillac, Fronton, Saint Sardos, Madiran/Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, Cahors, Saint Mont, Jurançon, Armagnac (a grape-based spirit)
Languedoc : Limoux (Blanquette de Limoux, Crémant de Limoux), Cabardès, Malepère, Minervois, Corbières.
* This is a selection of some of the closest AOPs in the Languedoc, but there are many more. The Languedoc is France’s largest wine-growing region.
IGP Wines: Côtes de Gascogne, Comté Tolosan
When it comes to cheeses, the exploration of local varieties is almost endless as there are so many small producers whose cheeses will only be distributed through local stores and markets. For this reason, the exploration of Toulouse’s markets remains our favorite way to discover new types of local cheese.
However, some regional specialties to remember:
Pavé Toulousain (THE Toulouse cheese – created by and exclusive to Xavier Fromagerie), La Laiterie Toulousaine’s shop-made cheeses, “Tomme de Brebis” (wheels of sheep milk cheese from the Pyrénées and Basque regions – includes Ossau-Iraty), Tomme de Pyrénées, Rocamadour, Roquefort, and Bethmale.
This brings an end to our cheese and wine guide to Toulouse. We hope we’ve provided you with plenty of inspiration!
If you’re in town and would like to taste local Toulouse food and drink in the company of an ex-cheesemonger and certified French Wine Scholar, browse our Toulouse Walking Tours.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please get in touch.