Manchego Cheese: A Tapas Classic
In the towns and villages across Spain, between the hours of 9 and 11 pm, the doors of the tapas bars that line their medieval streets, open to floods of hungry and excited locals and savvy tourists who come to stand in this social ritual of daily life. Classically, eating tapas (small snacks served cold or hot) fills a space between finishing work and having dinner. The small dishes of robustly flavoured foods fly off the shelves and wine is swilled in equal measure. Then, like a cluster of sardines, the crowd moves en masse to the next bar. Each bar specializing in different tapas from Patatas Bravas (cubes of potato in spicy, tomato sauce) to squid kebabs. However, the classic, no fail staple is Manchego cheese and Chorizo, usually drizzled in a sweet honey.
Manchego cheese is a hard cheese originating from Spain, made from sheep’s milk. Although, Manchego does not have the gamey taste of chèvre. It is a nutty, caramel flavour and is easily enjoyed by the most sophisticated palette as well as the pickiest of eaters. Chorizo, a sausage made from a mix of pork and pimenton (a variety of paprika which gives it that vibrant red colour), can be mild to spicy and packs a punch of flavour. When Chorizo is bathed in a honey glaze and mopped up with a slice of Manchego or crusty bread– it is gastronomic magic. And, tapas faithful side kick (or main attraction, depending on how you look at it) — a glass of red wine.
The standard is a Spanish Rioja. This is a beautiful classic pairing but, per usual, we are going to encourage you to explore a bit. Jiménez-Landi Bajondillo is an elegant, Spanish red, from the cool climate of Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain. The Vineyard uses minimal intervention and natural methods in wine production. The wine is from family heirloom old-vine Garnacha, blended with Syrah from younger vines. In the glass, this local Garnacha tells the story of Jiménez-Landi. And when you taste it, you’ll understand that it’s a story worth telling. The Bajondillo is a very easy refreshing drinking profile, medium-bodied with soft tannins, revealing juicy notes of blackberry and spice.
1 tbsp olive oil
400g Chorizo (Approx. Cut diagonally into 1 in chunks)
100ml red wine
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp honey
Wedges of Manchego to serve
A few sprigs of rosemary for garnish
- Heat a large frying pan over a medium high heat and add the olive oil and garlic.
- Add chorizo and fry for 2-3 minutes until sizzling or crisp.
- Pour over the red wine, add honey, paprika, and bay leaf. Cook until wine is reduced or until a thick sauce consistency (about 10 minutes).
- Garnish with a sprig or two of rosemary and serve with Manchego cheese slices.
Crusty bread, to serve