Like cheese from many other European countries, the 100 or so different varieties of cheese from Spain can be categorized by the regions where they are produced. They are further classified as having a light, medium or strong flavor. Some cheeses from Spain are recognized as having a Protected Denominations of Origin (DO) and each is unique in its own way.
Manchego - This cheese is named after the province made famous by Don Quixote, La Mancha. It is made from ewe's milk and has a sweet, mild flavor. It was originally made to provide durable food for shepherds.
Murcia Al Vino - This somewhat fatty cheese is made from goat's milk and has a creamy, elastic texture. Its flavor is enhanced by a rind that has been rubbed with light red wine.
Nata de Cantabria - This name means “creamy cheese” and it is a perfect description for this cheese. It is similar to cream cheese but has a delicious bitter point that is very distinctive.
Roncal - Made in one of the seven villages in the Valle de Roncal, this cheese is from the area that was the setting for Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. It is firm with a nutty flavor.
Tetilla - This yellow cheese is uniquely shaped like a spinning top. It has a clean taste and is creamy and smooth.
Zamorano - Named for the province of Zamora, Zamorano is a hard sheep's milk cheese with a sharp, buttery taste.
Afuega'l Pitu - Meaning “fire in the throat,” this cheese is so named because it sticks to the back of the throat a little. A well-aged sample has a very strong flavor that might not be for everyone.
Cabra al Romero - This is a newer cheese from the same company that makes Manchego. The outside is coated with rosemary to give it a mild herby flavor.
Idiazabel - This rustic ewe's milk cheese was originally produced high in the Pyrenees. It was smoked in the roofs of shepherd's huts and still carries that smoky flavor.
Arzula Illoa - This soft, creamy cow's milk cheese comes in a variety of strengths depending on how long it has been left to cure.
Queso de la Serana - Locally called Torta del Casar, this cheese is great for party platters. It is an organic cheese made from specially raised sheep. It is considered a luxury and is somewhat expensive.
San Simon - This smoked cheese is very popular in Spain and is formed in a pear-shaped mold. It is soft inside and has a mild flavor.