MANCHEGO CHEESE – The King of Spanish Cheese

Published : 01/23/2018 12:18:58
Categories : Eatapas News

What is Manchego Cheese?

Made from the milk of Manchega sheep, Manchego is by far the most renowned Spanish cheese. Introduced in the La Mancha region in south-east Madrid many centuries ago, this breed adapted well to the dry and harsh conditions of the territory.

The flavourful and high-fat milk produced by these sheep is the secret to the taste of Manchego Cheese.

Manchego has an ivory-yellowish colour and its texture is firm and compact. The Manchego taste is intense with nutty and herbal notes. This flavour becomes more powerful with age.

Producers have industrialised their cheese production over time. However, it’s still possible to spot artisan cheese-makers that produce Manchego from the unpasteurised milk of their own sheep herd. This is the case with Gómez Moreno, the producer Eatapas decided to team up with to bring their superb Manchego cheese to the UK.

Varieties of Manchego Cheese

The different types of Manchego Cheese depend on the ageing period:

  • Manchego Semi-Curado: aged for 3 months.
  • Manchego Curado: aged for 6 months.
  • Manchego Viejo or Añejo: aged between 9 and 12 months.

Manchego is labelled as “Artesano” when it is made from unpasteurised milk.
Cheese wheels are aged in maturing rooms with specific temperature and humidity. They are frequently turned around and regularly wiped with olive oil to prevent any mould from forming.

Manchego Cheese Protected Designation of Origin

Production of Manchego is so closely linked to the region it comes from, it obtained the Protected Designation of Origin status in 1984.
PDO status ensures a product is high-quality, and produced in specific ways.
The requirements Manchego producers have to meet in order for their cheeses to be labelled as PDO are:

  1. Production within the boundaries of the Spanish La Mancha region.
  2. Made from the milk of Manchega sheep.
  3. Aged for at least 2 months.
  4. Curd moulded into specific stamps that emboss a distinctive zigzag pattern on the rind.

The role of the Regulatory Council of the Manchego Cheese Protected Designation of Origin is to guarantee, through periodic audits, that cheese-makers comply with all the requirements established.
In their laboratory they carry out regular physical, chemical and microbiological analysis on Manchego samples.
On top of that, their tasting panel makes a sensorial analysis of cheeses, rejecting batches that don’t meet the minimum established standards of appearance, smell, taste and texture.

How to Identify Authentic Manchego Cheese

Unfortunately the market is flooded with poor imitations of “Manchego Cheese”.

If you want to be sure that you’re buying an authentic Spanish Manchego, you should look for the following identification marks:

  1. A Casein Tab must be stamped on the bottom of your Manchego wheel, where the words España and Manchego appear together with a series of digits and letters that identify each cheese.
  2. A numbered and serialised counter label with the PDO logo must be stuck on the top of the commercial label. The label should also indicate “Artesano” when the cheese has been made from raw milk.
  3. If cheese is sold in wedges, the counter label with the PDO logo should be stuck on each wedge.

How to Pair Manchego Cheese

Manchego cheese is versatile and pairs well with many different foods and drinks.
The perfect match is a matter of personal taste.
In our opinion, Spanish Manchego shines when combined with quince jelly, pear jam or fig chutney. It pairs well also with almonds and walnuts.

It’s one of the most used ingredients for Pinchos and Montaditos, for example:

  • Manchego Cheese and Caramelised Onions Montadito.
  • Manchego Cheese, Shelled Walnuts and Quince.
  • Manchego Cheese, Foie Gras and Paprika Montadito.
  • Manchego Cheese rolled into Cecina de León Pincho.
  • Manchego Cheese, Piquillo Pepper and Anchovy Montadito.

 

When it comes to drinks, cheese ageing is a crucial aspect to bear in mind:

The slight acidity of 3-month Manchego goes well with the fruitiness of young Tempranillo wines from Rioja. If you prefer white wine, Verdejo wines from Rueda, with their citrusy aromas, are a good option.
Pairing cheeses with wines coming from the same region is often a good idea. Medium-bodied Valdepeñas wines match particularly well with Manchego Curado.
Extremely mature Manchego can be paired with Fino sherry as a dinner starter.
Aged Manchego also makes a great match with ale.

Tips for Preparing Manchego Cheese

If you want to taste Manchego Cheese at its best, follow these simple steps:

  1. Take the wedge out of the fridge and remove any packaging.
  2. Leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes before cutting it.
  3. Remove the side rind.
  4. Cut 0.5 cm thick triangles without removing the outer rind.
  5. In case of big wedges, halve the obtained cheese triangles.
  6. Place it on a wooden board and garnish with almonds, walnuts, Quince, fresh fruit and jams.
  7. Accompany with a good glass of wine.

Hungry for some authentic Spanish products? Browse our full range of high-quality, artisan food here!

http://www.eatapas.co.uk/img/cms/museu%20de%20la%20confitura/forchetta.jpg

Share this content

You must be register

Clic here to register

Add a comment