Before you put that tapas party on your calendar, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got an appropriate cheese or two for your spread. Here, find 8 PDO Spanish cheeses that you need to know for your Spanish-inspired cheese board. They’re perfect paired with a palmful of almonds and silky slivers of jamón, then shared with good friends.
A sheep’s milk cheese that’s sometimes smoked, Idiazábal is a Basque icon. Wedges are supple, buttery, and slightly gamy (in a good way).
2. QUESO MANCHEGO
The go-to Spanish cheese, this La Mancha classic is instantly recognizable thanks to its zigzag-patterned rind. It’s made only with the milk of Manchega sheep and boasts notes of caramel and nuts.
This raw-milk blue is not for the faint of heart—especially if it’s a mixed-milk version (wheels are either all cow’s milk or a blend of cow, goat, and sheep). Expect bold, spicy aromas with notes of hazelnut and almond.
4. QUESO TETILLA
The name of this cheese, Spanish for “nipple,” is a nod to its unique shape. Young and buttery, the cow’s milk round also offers faint hints of vanilla and walnut.
This crowd pleaser is one of the most popular wheels in all of Spain. Simultaneously sweet, nutty, sharp, and buttery, Mahón is made on the Mediterranean island of Menorca with either just cow’s milk or a blend of cow’s and sheep’s milk.
6. QUESO IBORES
Walking the line between smooth and crumbly, this goat’s milk cheese features a unique texture. Its rind is often rubbed with paprika, which lends a slightly smoky note to the piquant, fruity wheel.
7. QUESO DE LA SERENA (TORTA DE LA SERENA)
A rare vegetarian cheese (it’s made with thistle rennet), sheep’s milk La Serena is soft, spoonable, and full of flavor. Slice off the top and get to dunking for a buttery, slightly bitter mouthful.
Hard and grainy, this pressed sheep’s milk cheese is packed with flavor. Herby, grassy notes mingle with the gamy, buttery roundness of sheep’s milk, while floral flavors tiptoe across the palate.