Since we’ve already talked Tapas, let’s discuss another way to build your own “Passion of Spain” at home – a spread of Spanish cheeses! Complement your cheese board with some Spanish delicacies:
- Olives and Marcona Almonds are musts!
- Spanish charcuterie, like Serrano ham or Spanish chorizo.
- Something sweet, such as membrillo (quince paste), dried fruit or Mitica Chocohigos.
- Crackers or bread, like Matiz Andaluz Picos or Torta de Aceite
Of course, you will also need to pick the perfect wine. Keep reading to learn more about some of our favorite Spanish cheeses, along with our suggested Spanish wine pairings.
1. Manchego DOP
Origin: Castilla La Mancha, Spain
Pasteurized Sheep Milk
Manchego is a DOP cheese, which can be made only from the milk of the Manchega sheep that graze in the provinces of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca and Toledo, all of which form the region of La Mancha. The best cheese is produced when the milk is the richest, between August and December. The pattern on the inedible rind honors a time when the cheese was wrapped in sheets of woven esparto grass. The Corcuera Family was the first in all of Castilla La Mancha to make and commercialize Manchego Cheese. The family produces the cheese in the province of Toledo using same day milk, producing a more buttery Manchego.
Manchego DOP 3 Month is supple and moist, with flavors of fruit, grass, hay and a tangy note.
WINE PAIRINGS: Lolo Albariño, Martín Códax Tempranillo.
Manchego El Trigal DOP 1 Year (pictured above) is aged one year, becoming crumbly in texture with a butterscotch color. It develops a complex, full flavor.
WINE PAIRINGS: Martín Códax Albariño, Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Crianza
2. Mahon DOP (4 Month)
Origin: Baleares, Spain
Raw Cow Milk
A DOP cow’s milk cheese from Minorca in the Balearic Islands, Mahon has been made since Roman times. The milk is thermalized, not pasteurized. Pale yellow in color with numerous eyes in the cheese, this four-month-aged cheese has a characteristic orange rind. Creamy with a nutty finish, Mahon is versatile in the kitchen. Someone once asked how the cows came to be on Minorca, and was told by the producer that they swam there!
WINE PAIRINGS: Hartley & Gibson Amontillado Sherry, Paco & Lola Albariño
3. Drunken Goat
Origin: Murcia, Spain
Pasteurized Goat Milk
Murcian cheesemakers invented this cheese in 1986 in an attempt to create a distinct regional cheese with big commercial potential. The cheesemakers took a traditional local goat cheese and bathed it in the local Doble Pasta red wine for three days (by caroline at dresshead). The result has been an unqualified success both commercially and gastronomically, and has brought attention and capital to the region. Aged for roughly 75 days, this semisoft cheese has a sweet, smooth flavor. The first Queso de Murcia al Vino DOP imported to the US, Drunken Goat is made with the finest milk from the region. The rind is an attractive violet color.
WINE PAIRINGS: Herencia Altés Garnatxa Blanca, Cristalino Brut Cava or Extra Dry
4. Campo de Montalban
Origin: Castilla La Mancha, Spain
Pasteurized Mixed Milk
Campo de Montalban is a cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheese from La Mancha. The exact proportion of the milks varies due to availability, and the flavor profile changes accordingly. The use of three different milks adds depth to the flavor, as you can taste each one, as well as the variety of herbs and grasses that three different animals were eating. Aged 90 days, the texture and appearance are similar to Manchego. It is rich and buttery, and finishes with a perfect balance in your mouth.
WINE PAIRINGS: Scala Dei Negre, Evodia Old Vine Garnacha
What is DOP? As you read this, you may have noticed the letters DOP in many of the cheeses names. DOP stands for “Denominazione di Origine Protetta,” which translates to “Controlled Name of Origin.” Any cheese labeled DOP means that it is authentically produced using age-old methods by a historic, legitimate company.