In fact Spain is the third country within the European Union with the most variety of cheeses behind France and Italy.
Spain produces a total of 29 cheeses that are categorized by their geographical origin compared to the 58 produced in both France and Italy.
A total of 26 of these Spanish quesos have a protected appellation of origin status – denominación de origen protegida (DOP) – which is a traditional designation used on products which have a specific quality or characteristics derived from the geographical environment in which they are produced.
This group of cheeses includes Manchego, Idiazábal, la torta del Casar and Cabrales.
A further three have a protected geographical indication – indicación geográfica protegida (IGP)- which is only given to products that are require all stages of the production process to be carried out in one specific area. It means that not only must the sheep, cows or goats be grazed within the zone but they must also have been milked there and the cheese manufactured within the area too.
These three cheeses are Valdeón, Los Beyos and Castellano.
Take a look at the map below to discover the different cheeses produced in geographical regions across Spain.
Map produced by El Orden Mundial
Per capital Spaniards eat an average of 9kilos of cheese a year and have over 200 different products to choose from.
Spanish cheeses can be divided into three main classes:
- Fresco: fresh cheese which has not been cured or aged
- Semi curado: semi-cured cheese which has been aged for two or three months
- Curado: cured cheese that has been cured for at least 4 months
Each year, Spain's Ministry of Agriculture gathers a panel of food experts to blind taste cheeses from across the country and rank them.