Hailing from the home of Don Quixote in La Mancha, Spain, Manchego is a semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese. The rind is inedible, but is easily identified by its herringbone pattern. The cheese itself has a subtly sweet and nutty flavor, with undertones of fruit and dried herbs. The texture is soft and crumbly when young, but as it ages, it develops a firmer, slightly flaky texture and pronounced notes of toasted almond.
Manchego pairs well with wines that will complement its complex flavors. Medium-to-full bodied, fruit-forward reds, or dry, acidic whites will be your best. These styles bring enough of their own heft to the table but won’t overpower the cheese.
Wine Characteristics to Pair with Manchego
|Acidity||Medium – High|
|Body||Medium – full|
|Tasting Notes||Fruity, nutty, herbaceous|
Choosing wines with these characteristics are sure to please the palate. Manchego’s own flavors of fruit, nuts, and herbs will be highlighted by the wine, elevating your experience. A wine with bold acidity will complement the rich, nutty flavor of the cheese, while structured tannins bring body and complexity to do the heavy lifting. You will want to avoid sweet wines as they will clash with the flavor of the cheese.
Best Red Wine to Drink with Manchego
The best reds will be dry, fruit-forward, and have medium to full body. Manchego is not a simple cheese so a simple, basic red will not cut it. The wines recommended below are complex in taste and body, but will not compete with the flavors of the cheese.
Rioja is savory and smooth with notes of cherry and plum, vanilla, and dill, making it a perfect accompaniment to the cheese. It is also from Spain and as they say, it goes with what it grows with. Try it with a Manchego grilled cheese.
This popular Argentinian wine is full bodied with strong tannins, notes of blackberry and plum and a chocolate finish. This is a great pairing if you like bold flavors. Enjoy a glass of Malbec with a juicy, Manchego-topped burger.
Garnacha is another Spanish wine offering bold candied fruit flavor with notes of cinnamon and citrus. This will bring out the freshness in a young Manchego. Try pairing it with a marinara-based pasta topped with Manchego.
The dark fruit flavor of Tempranillo highlights the nutty notes of the cheese and the herbal notes in both the wine and the cheese play very well together. If you are enjoying Manchego as part of your charcuterie board, Tempranillo is an excellent choice for wine.
Best White Wine to Drink with Manchego
White wines are a natural pairing with cheese. When it comes to Manchego, whites bring the acidity to cut through the richness of the cheese. You will want to be sure to choose a white with some body though, as light-bodied whites will be easily overpowered.
Chardonnay is dry and acidic, with notes of citrus and apples, and a buttery finish. It is a great complement to the tangy, salty flavor of the cheese. Pair the two with some Prosciutto and crusty bread for a delicious treat.
This Spanish white is light, crisp, and dry. Lime and grapefruit dominate the taste, along with notes of green apple and fennel. Try a glass of Verdejo with fresh, green salad topped with shredded Manchego.
Sherry is a dry, fortified wine that is as layered and complex as Manchego. Try different types of Sherry to see what you like best, but Fino is a great place to start. A glass of Sherry and a hunk of Manchego is a great appetizer.
Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain. It is dry with a citrus zest, bright acidity, and fresh minerality. The citrus and bubbles of the wine cut through the richness of the cheese. A snack of Cava, Manchego, and almonds is a popular combination.
Manchego and Wine Pairing Tips
Manchego is a versatile cheese that can be paired with a variety of other foods. The nutty notes of cheese make it a natural match with nuts, especially almonds, walnuts and hazelnut. If you are in need of a vehicle for your cheese, try whole wheat or rye crackers or crusty wheat bread. Berry jams, fig spread, quince paste, and honey are all excellent ways to elevate your cheese with a bit of sweetness. Finally, dry cured meats add salt and bring balance. Try serrano ham, prosciutto, or Genoa salami to really elevate your Manchego to new levels.
Best Wine To Drink With Manchego
The key to a great wine pairing with Manchego is choosing a wine that matches the complexity of the cheese. Spanish wines like Rioja and Verdejo will highlight the inherent flavors of the cheese, while a juicy Garnacha complements them.