Drunken Goat Cheese: The Spanish Cheese Soaked in Red Wine
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Cheese has long been a staple in many cuisines around the world. From the soft, creamy texture of French brie to the sharp tang of cheddar, cheese can be found in a wide range of flavours, textures, and styles. But have you ever heard of the drunken goat cheese? This unique cheese variety from Spain is made by soaking the cheese in red wine for several days, giving it a distinct flavour and texture that sets it apart from other cheeses.

Drunken goat cheese, or Murcia al Vino, is a Spanish cheese made from pasteurised goat's milk. The cheese is primarily made in the Murcia region of southeastern Spain, where it has a protected designation of origin (DOP) status.

Its unique flavour comes from the fact that it is soaked in red wine during the ageing process, which gives it a distinctive purple rind and a slightly sweet taste with a tangy finish. It is often served as an appetiser or dessert, paired with a glass of red wine, and is considered a delicacy by many. Drunken goat cheese has also gained popularity outside of Spain due to the developed interest in artisanal cheeses and unique flavours.

Its popularity has contributed to the growth of the speciality cheese industry. In addition to its cultural and culinary significance, drunken goat cheese also has health benefits. Goat's milk is lower in lactose than cow's milk, making it a good option for people with lactose intolerance. It is also a good source of calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients.

Tracing The Origins Of Drunken Goat Cheese

Drunken goat cheese, or Murcia al Vino, has a long and fascinating history that is closely intertwined with the culinary traditions of southeastern Spain. The origins of this cheese can be traced back to the ancient Roman era, when goats were first domesticated in the region.

Goat's milk was a staple food in this part of Spain, and over time, local farmers developed a variety of cheese-making techniques to preserve the milk and make it more palatable. One of these techniques involved soaking the cheese in wine, which helped preserve the cheese and gave it a unique flavour.

The process of making drunken goat cheese was refined over time, and by the Middle Ages, it had become an important part of the local cuisine. The cheese was typically made in small batches by local farmers, who would age it for several months in their homes or in caves.

Over time, the popularity of drunken goat cheese spread beyond the borders of southeastern Spain, and it became a favourite among cheese lovers around the world. Today, it is widely available in speciality cheese shops and gourmet markets, and it is often served in high-end restaurants as a delicacy.

Despite its growing popularity, however, the traditional methods of making drunken goat cheese have remained largely unchanged. The cheese is still made using pasteurised goat's milk, and it is still soaked in red wine during the ageing process. This commitment to tradition is part of what makes drunken goat cheese such a special and unique product.

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in artisanal cheeses and traditional cheese-making techniques, and this has led to a resurgence in the popularity of drunken goat cheese. Many cheesemakers are now experimenting with new variations of the cheese, such as adding different types of wine or ageing it for longer periods of time.

How Is Drunken Goat Cheese Made?

To make drunken goat cheese, fresh goat's milk is collected and pasteurised to ensure that it is safe to consume. A starter culture and rennet are added to the milk to curdle it, and the resulting curds are cut into small pieces and drained. The drained curds are then placed into moulds and pressed to remove any remaining whey.

After pressing, the cheese is soaked in red wine for several days or weeks, depending on the desired flavour and texture. During this time, the cheese absorbs the wine, which gives it a distinct purple rind and a fruity, tangy flavour. The purple rind is edible as well.

In fact, the cheese has been granted DOP status, which means that it must be produced using traditional methods and meet certain quality standards. The DOP designation ensures that the cheese is made in accordance with the traditional methods and techniques that have been passed down through generations of cheesemakers.

In addition to its unique flavour and texture, drunken goat cheese is also prized for its versatility in the kitchen. It can be enjoyed on its own as a snack or appetiser with a glass of wine, but it can also be used in a variety of dishes, such as salads, pasta dishes, and sandwiches.

Best Substitutes

If you are looking for a substitute for drunken goat cheese, there are several options available that can provide a similar taste and texture. One option is to use a different type of goat cheese. Cheeses like Bucheron or Chevre are creamy, tangy, and have a similar flavour profile to drunken goat cheese. While they won't have the same purple rind or wine-infused taste, they are still a great option for those looking to substitute drunken goat cheese in a recipe.

Another alternative is to use a cheese with a similar texture, such as feta or queso fresco. Both of these cheeses are crumbly and tangy, making them a good substitute for drunken goat cheese in salads or crumbled on top of pasta dishes. If you are looking for a vegan option, there are also several plant-based cheeses that can provide a similar taste and texture to drunken goat cheese, which is made from nuts and has a creamy, tangy taste that can be used in a variety of dishes.

Uses Of Drunken Goat Cheese

It is a versatile cheese whose tangy, wine-infused flavour and creamy texture make it a popular ingredient in both sweet and savoury dishes. One of the most classic ways to enjoy drunken goat cheese is on a cheese board. Its purple rind and creamy texture make it a beautiful addition to any cheese plate. Pair it with some crusty bread, fresh fruit, and a glass of red wine for a delicious snack or appetiser.

Drunken goat cheese also pairs well with salads. Its tangy taste and creamy texture make it a great addition to a variety of salads, from simple green salads to hearty grain salads. Crumble it on top of your salad and drizzle with a simple vinaigrette for a delicious and easy lunch.

Another great way to use drunken goat cheese is in pasta dishes. Try it in a simple pasta with olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs, or in a more decadent pasta with cream and pancetta.

Drunken goat cheese can also be used in savoury baked goods like quiches and tarts. It can also be used in sweet baked goods like cheesecakes and fruit tarts. Lastly, drunken goat cheese can be used as a topping for grilled or roasted vegetables. Its tangy flavour adds a delicious contrast to the sweetness of roasted vegetables like carrots or beets. Simply crumble it on top of your vegetables and drizzle with olive oil for a simple and yummy side dish.

Storage Instructions

Properly storing drunken goat cheese, or any cheese for that matter, is crucial for maintaining its quality and freshness. Here are some tips on how to store drunken goat cheese to ensure that it lasts as long as possible.

It's important to keep drunken goat cheese refrigerated at all times. It should be stored at a temperature of between 35 and 45°F (2 and 7°C), which is the ideal temperature range for most cheeses. It's best to store it in the cheese drawer of your refrigerator or in an airtight container.

When storing the cheese, it's also important to keep it away from other strong-smelling foods, such as onions or garlic, as it can absorb their flavour and aromas. You should also keep the cheese in its original packaging until you're ready to use it, as the packaging is designed to keep the cheese fresh.

If you've opened the cheese, wrap it tightly in wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. You can also store the cheese in an airtight container, such as a glass jar or Tupperware container, to help preserve its moisture.

When it comes to the shelf life of drunken goat cheese, it can vary depending on factors such as how it was made and how it's been stored. Generally speaking, drunken goat cheese will last for up to a week in the refrigerator, but it's best to check the packaging for a "best before" date to be sure.