The Cheesemonger: All About Manchego

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

It’s one of the most widely recognized names in the gourmet cheese marketplace. And for good reason. Here, all you’ve ever wanted to know about this Spanish cheese warrior, which has dominated the modern day cheese frontier for a much shorter period of time than it’s actually been around.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Characterized by a mildly gamy (think lamb choppy) flavor and a hazelnutty sweetness, Manchego is everywhere. I remember the first time I tasted a firm, fatty piece: at the Dean & Deluca cheese counter, when I quickly committed its name to memory. Since then, thousands of consumers have done the same, and it continues to dominate sales worldwide.

It’s arguably Spain’s most well-known cheese, made in La Mancha with the whole (full-fat) milk of Manchega sheep. Younger versions are aged for about 3 months, but you can find wheels aged for 9 months or longer, at which point they become drier and punchy, with a longer, more resilient finish. You’ll find examples that are bland and innocuous, but when you’ve happened upon a great producer, you’ll taste only round, meaty flavors and a distinct, creamy bite. Another traditional way of aging the cheese is in olive oil, which produces a rindless, super-dense, and much too often, very greasy (go figure) end product.

You’ll see Manchego made with


could argue indefinitely

Traditionally, it’s served with membrillo and marconas, or maybe some Serrano ham. A glass of sherry is an obvious choice to spotlight its nutty notes, or some

Crianza Rioja

More and more, we’ve been seeing it used in cooking, with suggestions for its incorporation into mac & cheese, sandwiches, salads, and even hand pies. Manchego makes an excellent melter and works wonders with all types of egg dishes.

But somehow, there’s nothing quite as memorable as trying it on its own, perhaps on a simple piece of deli paper, passed over the top of a cheese counter.

You can find Manchego at Murray’s Cheese for $20/lb and at for $11.99/ .5 lb or at Zingerman’s for $11.50/ .5 lb.


Twist on Tradition: Hand Pies