The Manchego is produced in the La Mancha region of Spain, which is also home to Don Quixote. It is made from unpasteurized sheep's milk. It is one of the popular cheeses from Spain, made from sheep's milk. It also comes under the PDO guidelines.
The traditional use of grass moulds leaves a distinctive, characteristic zigzag pattern on the Manchego cheese. Authentic Manchego is only made from the Manchego sheep's milk. Manchego cheese is made from both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk. The farmhouse version is produced from unpasteurized milk while the industrial version is made from pasteurized milk.
The rind is inedible with a distinctive, traditional herringbone basket weave pattern, pressed on it. A typical ear wheat pattern is pressed onto the top and bottom wheels of the cheese. There are specific differences in Manchego cheeses, depending on their aging period.
Semi Curado - Young Manchego cheese is aged around 3 months are supple and moist. The flavor is fruity, grass, hay with a tangy note.
Curado - Manchego cheese aged for 6 months acquires a caramel and nutty flavor. It has distinct acidity.
Viejo - Manchego cheese aged for a year becomes crumbly in texture while the interior of the cheese acquires a butterscotch color. It has a sweet, lingering taste.
Manchego cheeses are best paired with a sherry. Cheeses similar to Manchego are called 'Machego like cheeses', but the producers cannot legally name the cheese as Manchego.
Other Spanish cheeses:
Top photos from Twitter