Cheese and wine pairing: Idiazabal and Palarea 2005 Tinto

idiazabal cheeseThis Idiazabal cheese pairing goes with Palarea 2005 Tinto from Spain.


I am always cautious of wines with lots of oak, and more so of smoked cheeses. Smoked cheeses often taste fake, like liquid smoke, and all you can taste is the smoke. But there are always exceptions to the rules, like Idiazabal (pronounced “ee-dee-ah-ZAH-bahl”), a firm Spanish raw sheep’s milk cheese (like Manchego) from the Basque region. It’s aged between 2 and 6 months after being smoked over three hardwoods: beech, birch and cherry. The hints of smoke and the full flavor of sheep’s milk cheese make an interesting partner to this wine. But the oak in the wine marries well to the cheese and the lushness of the fruit is enhanced by the slight barnyard qualities of the cheese. And, we all know what happens when you drink great Spanish wines and eat great Spanish cheese… A Party!

Available at Whole Foods Market

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