2015: Year of the Sheep (Cheese)
According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2015 is The Year of the Sheep and we think it’s a fantastic opportunity to explore the delights of sheep’s milk cheeses. You may not know it, but you’ve probably already tried sheep milk cheese as some all-time classic cheeses are made using 100% sheep’s milk including Manchego, Pecorino, Roquefort and traditional Fetta. Sheep’s milk cheese has been around for thousands of years – in fact, it’s likely that sheep’s milk was used to make some of the first ever cheeses, as sheep were domesticated before goats and cows.
Reasons to love sheep’s milk cheese:
- The characteristic smooth, rich, nutty flavour is delicious, and tends to be very wine-friendly
- Sheep’s milk is much richer than cow’s milk and has almost double the calcium and protein
- They may be suitable for some people who can’t tolerate cow’s milk (always seek professional dietary advice if you have allergies and intolerances)
- Let’s face it – sheep are pretty cute: could you say no to these little faces?
These cheeses are a good place to start if you are new to sheep’s milk cheese – they offer a mild and gentle introduction to the characteristic nutty flavour:
- Ossau Iraty – a delightful semi-firm cheese from the Basque region, smooth, nutty and the perfect match for Shiraz
- Brebirousse – an incredibly creamy washed rind with a subtle pungent aroma. Enjoy with Riesling or Gewürztraminer
- Rosso Pecorino – a popular all-rounder pecorino with a gentle savoury flavour. Pair with Sangiovese or Merlot blends.
More advanced Palates:
Graduate into more complex flavours with these stronger cheeses:
- Roquefort – a French blue vein cheese with a strong, spicy bite balanced by a creamy finish. Pair with sweet white dessert wines like Sauternes.
- Fiore Sardo – a big, bold pecorino with a dry, crumbly texture and slightly smoky flavour. Pair with rustic Italian reds like Nero d’Avola.
So – embrace this Year of the Sheep, and ask to try something n-ewe next time you are in store!