"Buy with bread, sell with cheese” (also “"Buy on bread, sell on cheese") has been a saying in the wine industry in France, recorded in English since at least 1972. Cheese disguises the taste of the wine, making it easier to sell a bad wine. Professional wine buyers prefer water ("Buy on water, sell on cheese"), apples ("Buy on apples, sell on cheese") and even carrots ("Buy on carrots, sell on cheese") when not cleansing the palate with bread or biscuits.
Professional Friends of Wine
Wine 101: A Sensory User’s Manual
Cheese also clouds the ability to judge wine; as wise old French wine merchants say, “Achetez avec l’eau, vendez avec le fromage” (Buy with water, sell with cheese.)
Wine Spectator School
Q: I’ve heard that cheese tends to make any wine taste better (something about the effect on the taste buds I think), but may then mask the taste of excellent wine. Is this true?
-From: Christina K. in Understanding Wine
A: You are correct, Christina. There’s an old saying among wine merchants, “Buy on bread, sell on cheese,” since plain bread keeps your palate fresh so you can better evaluate the wine while cheese smooths the rough edges of a less-than-wonderful wine.
Cheese shields your taste buds much like the protective ear muffs worn by construction workers. You won’t feel the blast of tannins found in some red wines, but the symphony found in others will also be muted.
Here’s how it works: The fats and proteins in the cheese gum up your taste buds so there’s little chance for tannins to make much of an impact. This is why I advise leaving the cheese to the end of an analytical wine tasting.
When you’re at a tasting and want to cleanse your palate between wines, stick to water and plain crackers. To clear cheese out from your taste buds, go for more water and crackers as well as a wine with good acidity.
-- Gloria Maroti, director of education
Basic Necessities - Wine and Cheese
Wine & Cheese Pairing
The pairing of wine and cheese is a wonderful marriage and you can rarely go wrong. Cheese enhances wine and vice versa. There is, in fact, an old saying in the wine trade, “Buy on apples, sell on cheese.” An apple will bring out the defects in a wine, whereas a cheese will improve it.
30 September 1972, The Spectator, pg. 514:
As the wily wine trade say “We buy on apples, sell on cheese,” and if you really need anything to blot up your bouche en route along the tasting line, a bit of bread or biscuit is less palate-transforming.
Strong Wine, Red As Blood:
By Robert Daley
Published by Harper’s Magazine Press
“There’s an old saying in the wine business that when you’re selling wine, serve cheese. When you’re buying wine, eat apples.”
1 February 1976, Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT), “Rules govern wine choices” by Col. Jack Daniels, pg. 8W, col. 1:
While we won’t post any rules in today’s column, we might point out that the mating of wine and cheese is one of the most esteemed blendings of food with wine. The old adage, “Buy with biscuits, sell with cheese,” is good advice for the consumer as it is for the wine merchant who first said it.
19 March 1980, New York (NY) Times, “Wine Talk” by Terry Robards, pg. C1:
A time-honored maxim of the wine grade is: buy on bread, sell on cheese.
Food for Friends
By Barbara Kafka
Contributor James A. Beard
New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers
Food changes the taste of wine just as the right wine makes the food more enjoyable. There is a French wine-trade saying: “Sell on cheese; buy on apples.”
Google Groups: rec.crafts.winemaking
From: (Michael Mordas)
Subject: RE: A wine tasting
This is no such thing as a bad wine tasting. That said I head a wine maker at the Long Island NY wine conferance say:
“Buy with bread sell with cheese”
This means use bread to clean the pallette between wines. Cheese will mask many of the flavors.
Google Groups: alt.food.wine
Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 20:32:49 GMT
Local: Wed, May 15 2002 3:32 pm
Subject: Re: “Clearing” your palate
Cheese,the fat ( coats the tongue and reduces sensitivity) and protein ( binds with tannins) (the adage sell with cheese and buy with apples) can interfere taste as well as contribute olfactory (cheesy odor) .
30 Second Wine Advisor (October 11, 2002)
An old joke in the wine trade goes, “Sell with cheese, buy with bread (or fruit),” suggesting that when you’re trying to sell wine, you want to make it taste as good as possible; whereas it’s in the buyer’s interest to examine the wine as objectively as possible. Although I hope this wisdom is uttered more with humor than with cynicism, there’s truth in it. It’s worth thinking about, and examining the snack trays, the next time you attend a commercial wine tasting.
Scattering Point: the world in a Mennonite eye
By Jeffrey Gene Gundy
Albany, NY: SUNY Press
To grow up on the prairie
is to start the meal with bread:
it cleans the palate, winesellers say.
Buy with bread, sell with cheese.
The Sofia Echo
Wine Column - Just a Few Pointers
Thu, Jan 15 2004 13:00 CET by Patrick Skinner
Frequently there will be bread and cheese to assist your taste buds. As wine is designed to drink with food, for an inexperienced taster cheese is a reliable way of getting the best out of a wine. In the trade they say “Buy with apples, sell with cheese”.
Austin (TX) Chronicle (April 22, 2005)
Good bread will make you a better judge of wine. Honest!
BY WES MARSHALL
More than 900 years ago, Omar Khayyam had already figured out the joys of a nice bottle of wine and a loaf of bread. And while the picture is a seductive one, what many people don’t know is that experienced wine buyers frequently use bread as the food of choice when they are selecting wines for purchase. The saying you hear more often among wine aficionados is “buy with bread, sell with cheese.” The reason is simple: A good taste of crusty French bread, or other nonflavored bread, will cleanse your palate and prepare you to taste the next wine with an open mind. Cheese, on the other hand, is a great salesman’s tool because it blunts the palate and keeps you from tasting flaws in the wine. Even better, if it is a bleu cheese, it makes even insipid wines taste fruity. Next time you go to a tasting, see what the store is pushing, and you’ll get a good idea of the quality of the wine.
Seattle Wine Blog
Monday, September 10, 2007
Buy On Wine, Sell On Cheese
The French have a saying, “Buy on wine, sell on cheese.” What does this mean? It means, if you want get a clear, undistorted, taste of the wine, clear your palate with bread. If you want the enhance the taste of the wine serve it with cheese, meat, or olives. It is ironic that wine judges are routinely served olives and meat to clear thier palates. Perhaps that is why they give medals to 60% of the entries.
Clearing The Palate - WinePress.US
Dec 16 2008, 12:39 PM
I have been to a few professional wine tastings, complete with judges and found that the judges cleared their palates with water and raw carrots.
There’s an old saying about wine.."Sell on cheese, buy on carrots”. Try it...it works.
February 11, 2009
A day at a fromagerie
by Martin Field
Perhaps the most simple and enjoyable food and wine match is that of wine (red especially) and cheese. French winemakers have it right when they say, ‘Sell with cheese, buy with apples.’
Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette
Jelly beans and wine? Now that’s weird
Thursday, April 09, 2009
By Elizabeth Downer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
All of the wines worked well with the protein foods, although I personally preferred the acidic albillo with the sopressata and the tannic Gigondas with the cheese. This is not surprising since the lacto-proteins in cheese tend to create a barrier on the gums that reduces the harshness of any tannin in red wine. That is the reason for the old saying in wine circles: “Buy with bread but sell with cheese.” Cheese has a way of improving faults in wine.