How to combine wine & cheese from Spain correctly

Pairing Wine Cheese
Food Pairing / Wine / Wine Knowledge

How to combine wine & cheese from Spain correctly

The pairing of wine and cheese has a long tradition. This is the reason why there are excellent types of cheese in many wine regions. In Spain there is a nice expression for this combination that says “vino y queso saben a beso”. Wine and cheese taste like a kiss.
On the other hand, and less romantic, they also say “que no te la den con queso”. Which means “don’t have it served with cheese”. This phrase comes from a time when winemakers wanted to deceive potential buyers by serving an intense cheese with the wines. By doing so, they tried to hide possible defects in the wine. With this phrase, buyers were warned about this very common practice.

Fortunately, those days are over. However, it is still important to combine wine and cheese correctly so that they do not overlap each other in terms of taste. Mostly it is assumed that a red wine always goes well with cheese. It is not always the case. On the contrary, often even a white wine goes much better with many types of cheese.

Basics of pairing wine and cheese

Pairing wine and cheese is about the interplay of different flavors from both. The aim is to combine these with each other in such a way that the taste of each of these products intensifies or is in harmony with each other.
This interplay of wine and cheese is known in Spanish as “Maridaje” [mariˈðaxe]. A distinction is made between 2 types of pairing:

  • When paired harmoniously, wine and cheese complement each other.
  • In contrast means, that a wine is combined with a cheese that tastes completely opposite.

A harmonious pairing usually results from cheese and wine that come from the same place or region, as both are subject to the same climatic and geographical conditions.

4 exciting wine – cheese combinations

I would like to introduce you to 4 typical wines from Spain in combination with 4 of the most famous Spanish cheeses. These are regional combinations of Galicia, the Basque Country and Castile-La Mancha and for those who are a little more adventurous, there is a contrasting pairing of wine and cheese at the end. ?

1. Tetilla cheese with Ribeiro

Tetilla cheese comes from Galicia and is so named because its shape is reminiscent of a female breast (teta means breast). This shape results from the drip method, in which the quark was traditionally hung in musilin bags, resulting in a conical shape.
Tetilla is a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk, which is protected under the Designation of Origin and is one of the symbols of Galician cuisine. The creamy cheese is pale yellow and has a mild taste.
Tetilla cheese goes well with a white wine, preferably a Ribeiro, which also comes from Galicia and has aromas of fresh fruits. The pleasant acidity of the wine perfectly complements the delicious creaminess of the cheese.

2. Idiazabal cheese with Txakoli

Idiazabal cheese is a hard cheese made from raw milk from the Latxa sheep breed in the Basque Country and Navarre and is protected under the Designation of Origin. It is a spicy cheese with a slightly smoky note that it gains from smoking over natural wood.
A Txakoli, the most popular product from the Basque Country, goes well with the Idiazabal. It is a light, fruity, slightly frothy and fresh white wine.
The Idiazabal can also be wonderfully combined with Reserva red wines or cider.

3. Manchego cheese with Cencibel (Tempranillo)

Manchego cheese is definitely Spain’s most famous cheese. It is made exclusively from milk from the Manchega sheep breed. These produce an extraordinary milk that contributes to the intense and characteristic taste of Manchego cheese. It is available under the Denomination of Origin ‘D.O. Queso Manchego ‘and is only produced in Castile-La Mancha.
A red wine of the Cencibel variety goes best with Manchego cheese. This is the name used in Castile-La Mancha for the grape variety otherwise known worldwide under the name Tempranillo. A crianza goes well with a semi-cured Manchego cheese. A cured Manchego cheese harmonizes well with a Reserva or Gran Reserva.

4. Cabrales cheese with Pedro Ximenez

The Cabrales is a semi-hard cheese with blue mold made in Asturias. It is made from raw cow’s milk or a mixture of two or three types of milk: cow, goat or sheep. Just like the other cheeses mentioned before, it is also protected under the Denomination of Origin.
As usual for blue cheese, it has a very strong taste and therefore harmonizes ideally with a strong wine with a sweet taste in order to balance out the intense and salty taste of the cheese. These are two opposing flavors, but when combined they make for a real taste explosion.

We hope that these pairing of Spanish wine and cheese inspire you to try them out! Ultimately, when it comes to combining wine and cheese, your personal preferences and your willingness to experiment are decisive. In any case, these should be fun.

¡Buen aprovecho y salud!

Would you like to learn more about wine? Then we recommend you our post about the most common wine myths. Enjoy it!

Comments (2)

  1. Barbara

    We are traveling to Spain and Portugal. Can you recommend where in either location we could try a wine and cheese paring of the 4 cheese and wine combinations you explain about here in your blog, write up.? Thank you.

    1. Hi Barbara, thank you for your interest!
      As the cheeses and wines are from different areas in Spain it might be difficult to find a place to taste them all in this combination. But, as we also have our own winery ( we can arrange a tasting with exactly these combinations, no problem! Please contact us by email ( for further details. Cheers, Diana

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