Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pecorino Ginepro

Pecorino, the generic Italian term for cheeses made from sheep’s milk, has been made in Italy since the Ancient Romans. Pecorino Ginepro hails from Emilia Romagna, where at the turn of the 20th century there were many thousands of sheep and hundreds of producers. This number began to shrink as the local Parmigiano-Reggiano grew in popularity and sheep farmers turned to breeding cows to keep up with the trend. Currently, only a small number of farms in Emilia-Romagna still produce pecorino. 

Each 6 pound wheel of Pecorino Ginepro is soaked in an aromatic bath of balsamic vinegar and juniper before it is aged for a minimum of four months. The dark brown rind is created by the vinegar, though the lingering finish is kissed with gin-juniper. The flavors of the balsamic vinegar and juniper seeps into the bone-white paste and give the salty cheese a sweet finish of juiciness. Wrapped in paper, which contains moisture, the cheese is always moldy, and benefits from a few hours' breathing. An unusual and arresting cheese, made of raw sheep milk.

The pleasant combination of sweet and savory in the cheese, along with its distinctive aromas, make it a good match for either a medium-bodied fragrant white or a lighter style red. Fiano di Avellino, the pine scented white from Campania or a slightly tart Langhe Nebbiolo from Piemonte would both go exceptionally well.

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