Manchego Cheese: Everything you Need to Know
What is Manchego Cheese?
Manchego is a sheep’s milk cheese from Spain. The shape of Manchego cheese is very characteristic and defined. It has an intense taste and crumbly texture which makes it perfect for eating alone. It has a rich golden color and small holes.
It is traditionally made with grass molds so it has a very distinctive zigzag pattern on the cheese. It appears as a herringbone pattern n the rind, which is inedible.
How is Manchego cheese aged?
The rich, semi-firm product is aged in natural caves for two to six months, giving it a zest and exuberant flavor. It is always aged for a minimum of two months.
There are significant changes in the flavor over time and sometimes in Spain, you will see it served in a variety of ages.
History of Manchego Cheese
Manchego cheese is made in the La Mancha region of Spain. It has a long historical and literary tradition, as it was mentioned by Cervantes in the legendary “Don Quixote of La Mancha”.
It is made from the whole milk of the Manchega sheep, which are only bred in the La Mancha region. Archaeological remains show that a cheese like Manchego may have been made as far back as the Bronze Age.
What does it taste like?
It has a caramel, nutty flavor with some acidity. The longer it is aged, the more the flavor resembles butterscotch.
How should I eat it?
Manchego is a great cheese for eating on its own or as part of a cheese board. It pairs beautifully with fruits such as figs and plums. It’s also delicious with fruity chutneys.
Membrillo, a quince paste, is often served with Manchego Cheese as the textures and flavors create a great contrast.
It’s also great with savory flavors such as olives, sundried tomatoes, and crusty bread.
It also grills well so it can be delicious in a grilled cheese or grated over baked pasta dishes instead of parmesan. We love it in quesadillas with some spicy chorizo.
If you are serving a tapas dinner, a block of manchego is a great addition to the table. Add some bread and a bottle of red wine – you’ll keep all your guests happy.
What should I drink with Manchego Cheese?
It pairs well with a robust red wine such as Rioja or Tempranillo. It is also delicious with a glass of dry sherry.
The aromatic intensity of a Manzanilla wine also makes it an excellent foil for Manchego cheese.
Have you tried Manchego? How do you like to eat it? Let us know in the comments!