For a start, it’s important to get a real Manchego, otherwise you’re bound to be disappointed. Look at the back of the wheel to find an official D.O. tab labeling it Manchego. Without that, the cheese is a fake! Watch out especially for “Manchego-style” cheese, which comes with no guarantees of even being similar to real Manchego.
You also need to know what the cheese looks like.
As with any product with such a long history behind it, Manchego has a very recognizable appearance. It comes in big wheels, with a diameter of about 25cm and a thickness of 12cm, giving it a weight of around three kilos. Carrying one in each hand makes for an excellent and delicious exercise regime! (If a bit counter-productive…)
On the outside, there’s an inedible rind with a traditional herringbone basketweave pattern on it, which apparently has been used ever since the cheese was wrapped in sheets of woven grass in the Bronze Age. The top and bottom of the wheel are pressed with wheat ear patterns, and divided by lines into four equal parts.
The other question is always: which type of Manchego cheese? Check out our guide to the aging of Manchego to get a sense of the differences between the varieties. We can also help you out with some basic Manchego recipe ideas.
But really, you want to buy them all, as they’ve all got different strengths and I’m sure you can work out ingenious new ways to eat delicious Manchego cheese!