Manchego cheese is protected since 1984 by a Denominación de Origen, a classification controlled by a council which dictates exactly what can and can’t be called Manchego cheese – this ensures that you’re getting that classic Manchego taste every time. Push the boundaries and you better believe these tough cheese-makers will fix you up!
If you read Spanish you should check out the official D.O. website, linked at the bottom. But for those who don’t, what exactly makes a real, traditional Manchego?
- For a start, Manchego cheese has to be has to come from the La Mancha plateau in south-central Spain.
- The milk used in Manchego cheese has to come from Manchega sheep, an ancient breed which is used to thriving up on the high plains of La Mancha.
- Once made, the cheese has to be aged in natural caves for at least two months.
Classic Manchego cheese is made from unpasteurised milk, and so has more character than the more modern industrial Manchego. This classic cheese is still produced by small artisan cheese-makers. However, in some countries the importation of unpasteurised cheese is forbidden, so it might be hard to get hold of any of this special stuff – you’ll just have to go over to La Mancha…
Look carefully when you buy the cheese – you can ensure that you’re getting a real Manchego by checking for the D.O. label, which is usually displayed proudly on the back of the wheel.
Official D.O. website: http://www.quesomanchego.es/