Wine and cheese, what a perfect marriage! Two of life’s great culinary pleasures that are delicious on their own and even better when paired together. The Canary Islands is a holidaymaker’s paradise, not only for its incredible landscapes and beautiful weather, but also for producing some of the most unique wines and cheeses in the world. Read on to learn more…
In the Canary Islands, wine and cheese are as diverse and special as each Island in the Archipelago. Together, these two delicacies, praised by some of the world’s most influential food and wine critics, have fourteen Denominations of Origin.
Both delicacies are made using traditional methods and boast a unique flavour and subtlety due to the islands’ microclimates, drastic altitude changes, volcanic terrain, and particular orography, as well as their endemic biodiversity.
Vine cultivation in the Canaries dates back to the 15th century, when the first varieties arrived at the Islands along with the conquerors. In the 16th century, its internationally recognised malvasía wine became known in around Europe and was even referenced by William Shakespeare himself! In the 19th century, when phylloxera aphid wiped out most of Europe’s vines, the Canary Islands’ isolated location meant their vines remained unaffected.
An estimated 135 different grape types varieties have been genetically identified on the Islands. One of its oenological jewels is the volcanic malvasía, but there are many other native ones such as the baboso, listán or vijariego.
Nowadays, the Islands currently have eleven denominations of origin. Tenerife has five of these wine labels: Ycoden Daute Isora, Abona, Valle de Güímar, Tacoronte Acentejo and Valle de La Orotava.
The wine-producers and oenologists’ technical evolution have allowed the Canaries to achieve international recognition. Some of the world’s most trusted authorities in wine like Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, Ferrán Centelles o Josep Roca have praised the unusual Canarian winemaking fundamentally for their rare quality and extreme originality.
The volcanic malvasía production in Lanzarote and aromatic malvasía in La Palma are also worth mentioning. There are also other peculiarities such as the unique reds from El Hierro, like the baboso variety, recovered almost on the brink of extinction, and whites like diego or verijadiego. Gran Canaria has also its distinctive productions based on listán negro, gual and negramoll, among others.
Cheeses to Please Every Palete
Whether coated with delicious spices, smoked, or left fresh and tender, Canarian cheeses are known for their incredibly unique flavours. In the Canary Islands there are three Protected Designation of Origin (PDO): Majorero Cheese PDO, Palmero Cheese PDO and Flor de Guía Cheese PDO, Media Flor de Guía Cheese and Cheese from Guía.
The Majorero Cheese, produced in Fuerteventura with goat milk and paprika-coated, was the first to achieve the PDO in 1996. The Flor de Guía, made of Gran Canarian sheep’s milk achieved the PDO in 2009 and has since been recognised worldwide. La Palma was the second Canarian Island to process the PDO for its cheeses, made mainly with goat milk.
Another excellent option is the smoked goat’s cheeses made in Tenerife as well as el Hierro’s homemade cheese, usually from goat, cow or sheep’s milk. Lanzarote has undergone a notable evolution in the production of quality cheeses while in La Gomera the farmers make two types of cheese, mixing goat and sheep’s milk.
Each island presents diversity in textures, acidity degrees, smoked or ripened and refined that are relate to every region’s history. Varieties that have won the highest awards at major meetings, like the prestigious World Cheese Awards.
The best way to discover all these flavours is to visit some of the Canary Islands wineries and cheese shops.
For more information please contact Niamh Waters firstname.lastname@example.org