Murray's 1 Year Manchego
Tiliting at windmills a la Don Quixote works up quite an appetite thank goodness for La Mancha's own Manchego. Perhaps Spain's most famous cheese, Manchego is a D.O. (Denominación de Origen) protected cheese, meaning the traditional recipe must use 100% Manchega sheep milk. The breed has proven sturdy enough over the centuries to traverse the rocky, arid central plateau region of La Mancha where cows just can't hang. Made using fresh, pasteurized sheep's milk, this Manchego develops a rich nuttiness and pleasant gaminess (think toasted almonds and broiled lamb chops) after over a year of aging. The patterned rind is a nod to the grass baskets previously used to form the cheese. Firm enough to grate for any culinary application, highlight its sharp, caramelly flavor anywhere you would use Parmigiano. Yearning for a perfect pairing is anything but quixotic - raise a glass of herbaceous Rioja alongside fruity membrillo paste for tapas perfección.