How to Choose the Perfect Wine to Pair With Manchego Cheese

A tender and crumbly Spanish sheep cheese that hails from the arid rolling plains of Castille-La Mancha, Manchego offers up a mild or intense (depending on its age) flavor-packed taste that makes it a classic table cheese.

Manchego pairs well with a variety of light, dry wines. In my opinion, the best wines to bring out Manchego’s flavors are chardonnay, Cava, a Tempranillo or Verdejo, a mature Chianti, or a classic Spanish Rioja.

Essentially, wines that flatter Manchego’s complex flavors without overwhelming it with stronger tannins are the way to go. If you’re looking for the perfect pairing, here are 8 great wines that I think go exceedingly well with Manchego cheese.

1. Chardonnay

Chardonnay has a dry or buttery, medium to robust taste. Its flavors range from aromatic hints of apple and zesty lemon in warmer climates to pronounced citrus notes in cooler regions. Chardonnay's secondary notes include light vanilla, coconut, or spice flavors.

Why It Pairs Well with Manchego

Dry wines with softer tannins are ideal for blending with the Spanish sheep’s cheese. A dry and elegant wine like Chardonnay pairs impeccably with Manchego’s rich, zesty, slightly salty, and savory taste.

Chardonnay & Manchego Pairing Idea

You can complement Manchego’s crumbly texture with a delicate Foxglove Chardonnay and tapas that bring out its subtle, sun-drenched goodness. Great additional food choices here would be:

  • Olives
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Prosciutto
  • Drizzled olive oil
  • Fruit jam
  • Almond, hazelnut, or walnut paste
  • Crusty bread

2. Cava

Spanish Cava also makes an entrance into the list with its subtle almond and lemony flavors.

Why It Pairs Well with Manchego

It’s no surprise that upland Spanish wines pair exquisitely with native sheep’s milk cheese but Cava’s light but distinctive flavors really allow Manchego’s tart qualities to shine.

Cava & Manchego Pairing Idea

If you’re looking for a tantalizing experience, try pairing a Cava Rosado with Manchego and a Spanish ham that’s reminiscent of star-studded nights over the Iberian Peninsula:

  • Serrano or jamón ibérico (if it can be legally imported in your country)
  • A crusty baguette
  • Figs, plums, quince, blackberries, or apricots

3. Verdejo

Verdejo is a light and dry Spanish white wine with notes of citrus and green apple bouquets.

Why It Pairs Well with Manchego

Verdejo lacks sweetness but retains just the right amount of dryness and mild fruitiness to make it a good companion to Manchego’s mildly acidic nature.

Verdejo & Manchego Pairing Idea

Try serving a glass of young, unoaked Verdejo with Manchego accompanied by some savory Spanish crackers for a light appetizer.

4. Tempranillo

Northern Spanish and Andalusian wines such as Tempranillo make a luscious pair when served alongside Manchego’s nutty fragrance.

Aged in oak barrels, Tempranillo includes dark fruit flavors like dried figs and blackberry. It can also offer intriguing savory notes such as smoky tobacco, dill weed, or woody scents.

Why It Pairs Well with Manchego

We know that Manchego and berries offer a satisfying blend. Tempranillo’s dark, complex notes are a vibrant offset to Manchego’s tangy nature.

Tempranillo & Manchego Pairing Idea

Manchego grates and melts well, so it’s perfect for salads, toppings, or grilling. It’s also a versatile charcuterie workhorse that pairs beautifully with a wide variety of side dishes.

For a truly next-level experience, try a Campo de Borja for a Tempranillo with softer tannins with a creamy Manchego spaghetti dish like a Spanish chorizo spaghetti carbonara.

5. Chianti

Sunny Tuscany is home to this full-bodied red wine. Dry, robust, with an aroma of violets and tart cherry notes, Chianti is the ultimate wine to pair with a cheese-inspired dinner.

Why It Pairs Well with Manchego

There’s nothing quite like a blend of Spanish cheese with Italian wine to create the ultimate foodie feast. Mature Chianti’s deep fruit notes make the perfect foil for aged Manchego’s sharply robust flavor.

Chianti & Manchego Pairing Idea

Although you can’t go wrong with tapas, Manchego’s adaptable nature allows the chef in all of us to branch out.

Try a Classico Chianti which has less structured tannins with this unusual twist on a flavor combination: Genoa Salami Skewers with Manchego and Jammy Cherries.

6. Dry Sherry

Dry sherries such as Amontillado, Fino, or Pablo Cortado have nutty, buttery, caramel, dried fruit, or savory mushroom flavors.

Why It Pairs Well with Manchego

Amontillado’s smoky and caramel overtones blend well with Manchego’s salty tang.

Fino’s almond hints and breath of wild herbs make an enchanting duo with Manchego’s faint herbal undertones.

Palo Cortado takes it up a notch with its full-bodied, buttery flavor that carries the nutty and dried fruit flavors to match Manchego’s subtlest notes.

Dry Sherry & Manchego Pairing Idea

While you’re serving up an Amontillado or Palo Cortado, why not pair the sherry with a bold Manchego frittata?

A common Spanish breakfast choice, frittata is a winter-friendly blend of potato, onion, egg, and Manchego cheese browned to perfection in olive oil (which is actually delicious at any time of the day!).

7. Rioja

Many gourmets match a Spanish wine with Manchego for good reason, and Rioja is the classic choice.

Why It Pairs Well with Manchego

Like the popular Cabernet Sauvignon, wine from the La Rioja region has structured tannins but with a bold cherry flavor.

This classic Spanish wine boasts medium dryness, dark berry blends, and a mild acid tang that proves a good choice to sip while savoring the taste of this hard sheep's cheese.

Keep in mind that Rioja generally pairs better with an aged Manchego, which has a more mature flavor.

Rioja & Manchego Pairing Idea

An aged Rioja Reserva is the perfect complement to this Grown-Up Manchego Grilled Cheese Sandwich for a hearty lunch.

But did you know that Rioja isn't always red? Remelluri Rioja Blanco is an example of the lesser-known white version, and can transform a Manchego salad as magically as it can melt into an omelet.

For a lighter meal, try a salad with Manchego, sliced pear, peppery mixed-leaf greens, a sprig of rosemary, a dash of lemon and honey, and a balsamic vinaigrette drizzle

8. Garnacha

If you're looking for a sweet or candied wine, look no further than Garnacha.

Why It Pairs Well with Manchego

So far, we’ve focused on drier wines that go easy on the tannins. One thing to note though is that Manchego's flavor shifts based on the aging process.

Young Manchego (aged less than 6 months) contains subtle notes of hay, grass, herbs, or wild fruit that reveal its wilderness origins. Mature Manchego (aged beyond 6 months) softens into more mellow and rounded flavors that include hints of nuts and caramel wrapped in a robust, salty tang.

If you’ve selected a young Manchego cheese, Garnacha, an orange wine with quince flavor can give fresh notes to a 4-month-old Manchego’s tender texture.

Garnacha & Manchego Pairing Idea

While Parmesan is typically the cheese of choice for this dish, Manchego also makes an excellent grating cheese to top Spaghetti Bolognese.

Pair Spaghetti Bolognese with a glass of Benovia Grenache Sonoma Mountain for compatible vanilla and cherry notes.

The fact that candied wine can pair as perfectly with a young cheese as a dry Spanish wine offsets an aged version demonstrates the classic versatility that Manchego cheese can bring to your table.