Provolone is an Italian cheese made from cow's milk and whose origins lie in Southern Italy. Though many countries have started producing this cheese, traditional Provolone is still produced only in the northern region of Italy. Both Provolone ValPadana and Provolone del Monaco are granted DOP designation by the European Union to ensure that cheese is produced under strict supervision using specific methods to guarantee supreme quality. Provolone Valpadana is produced in the plains from Milan to Udine. Provolone del Monaco cheese is made in the areas around Naples.
The technique of spinning the curds to produce pasta filata cheeses like Provolone, Scamorza cheese and mozzarella has its origins in the Middle Ages. Provolone ValPadana, a DOP protected cheese variant, is made from the whole milk of cows grazing in the plains from Milan to Udine.
Animal rennet is used to produce Provolone ValPadana, which is then moulded into various traditional shapes and matured depending on the weight of the cheese. The cheese has a sweet, delicate flavour that becomes spicier and more pronounced throughout curing.
There are two types of Provolone available. Provolone Dolce is aged 2-3 months and has a pale yellow to white colour with a sweet taste. The other, Provolone Piccante, is aged for more than four months and has a sharper taste. Either version may be smoked, specified as 'Affumicata'.
Provolone Dolce goes well with young and fruity wines such as Novello, Barbera and Valcalepio. Provolone Piccante makes a good pairing with aged and structured wines, like Amarone, Valpolicella, Refosco, and Barbaresco. It can be eaten as is or together with Cremona mustard or honey, or breaded and fried or grilled.