Parmigiano Reggiano is an Italian cheese with a long history dating back to the Middle Ages. It is one of the world’s most beloved and iconic cheeses, famous for its nutty flavor, unique texture, and versatility in the kitchen. Parmigiano Reggiano is produced in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and parts of Mantua and Bologna. The production process is tightly controlled by the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium to ensure quality and authenticity.
Parmigiano Reggiano comes in different ages, and each age offers unique characteristics in terms of flavor, texture, and aroma. The cheese is aged for a minimum of 12 months, but some Parmigiano Reggiano is aged for up to 36 months or more. In this article, we will take a closer look at the three main ages of Parmigiano Reggiano and how to taste them.
12-Month Parmigiano Reggiano
12-month Parmigiano Reggiano is the youngest version of the cheese. It is firm and crumbly with a sweet, nutty flavor and a fruity aroma. It is an excellent cheese for grating and melting, and it pairs well with many different foods. It is a popular choice for use in pasta dishes, on salads, and in risottos.
When tasting 12-month Parmigiano Reggiano, begin by inspecting the cheese visually. Look for a pale yellow color with small holes throughout the cheese. Next, take a small piece of cheese and smell it. You should be able to detect a nutty and fruity aroma. Then, take a small bite and let the cheese melt in your mouth. You should be able to taste the sweet and nutty flavors with a hint of fruity notes.
24-Month Parmigiano Reggiano
24-month Parmigiano Reggiano is a more mature version of the cheese. It has a harder texture and a more intense flavor compared to the 12-month version. It has a deep, nutty flavor with a slightly sweet and salty taste. It is an excellent cheese for grating and can be used in a variety of dishes.
When tasting 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano, inspect the cheese visually, as with the 12-month version. The color will be slightly darker than the younger cheese, and the holes will be slightly larger. Smell the cheese, and you will notice a more intense nutty and fruity aroma. Take a small bite, and the cheese will be harder and crumbly, but it will quickly melt in your mouth. You will taste the deep, nutty flavor with a slightly sweet and salty taste.
36-Month Parmigiano Reggiano
36-month Parmigiano Reggiano is the most mature and intense version of the cheese. It has a hard, crystalline texture with a complex and robust flavor. The cheese has a deep, nutty flavor with hints of caramel, and it is an excellent cheese for grating and using in recipes where a strong flavor is desired.
When tasting 36-month Parmigiano Reggiano, inspect the cheese visually as with the other versions. The color will be the darkest, and the holes will be the largest. The aroma will be the most intense, with a complex nutty and fruity scent. Take a small bite, and the cheese will be the hardest and the most crystalline. You will taste the deep, nutty flavor with hints of caramel and a long, lingering finish.
Parmesan and Wines.
Young (12-18 months) – A young Parmigiano Reggiano is mild and creamy with a slightly sweet flavor. It pairs well with light-bodied red wines such as Chianti or Barbera, which have enough acidity to balance the cheese’s rich creaminess without overwhelming its delicate flavor.
Mature (24-36 months) – A mature Parmigiano Reggiano has a stronger, nuttier flavor with a drier texture. It pairs well with full-bodied red wines such as Brunello di Montalcino or Barolo, which have enough tannins to stand up to the cheese’s intensity while also complementing its nutty notes.
Extra Mature (over 36 months) – An extra mature Parmigiano Reggiano is the most intense and flavorful, with a crumbly texture and a sharp, salty taste. It pairs well with fortified wines such as Port or Madeira, which have enough sweetness to balance the saltiness of the cheese and enough complexity to match its depth of flavor.
Bonus Pairing 60 months old Parmigiano.
60-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano is a cheese with a strong, complex flavor profile that demands to be paired with equally bold and robust wines. Here are some wine pairing options for 60-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano and their tasting notes:
Amarone della Valpolicella: This full-bodied red wine from Veneto, Italy has a rich and velvety texture that pairs well with the crumbly texture of the 60-month Parmigiano Reggiano. The wine has notes of dark fruit, tobacco, and leather that complement the nutty and sharp flavors of the cheese.
Barolo: Another Italian wine, Barolo is made from the Nebbiolo grape and has a complex flavor profile that is perfect for pairing with the complex flavors of aged Parmigiano Reggiano. The wine has notes of cherry, truffle, and tobacco that complement the nutty and tangy flavors of the cheese.
Bordeaux: This red wine from France has a bold and tannic flavor that pairs well with the strong and sharp flavors of 60-month Parmigiano Reggiano. The wine has notes of blackcurrant, black cherry, and tobacco that complement the nutty and sharp flavors of the cheese.
Vintage Port: This fortified wine from Portugal has a rich and complex flavor profile that is perfect for pairing with 60-month Parmigiano Reggiano. The wine has notes of blackberry, cherry, and chocolate that complement the nutty and tangy flavors of the cheese.
Tasting Note: 60-month Parmigiano Reggiano is a cheese with a crumbly texture and a nutty, sharp, and tangy flavor profile. The cheese has a complex flavor that develops over time, with notes of caramel, butterscotch, and umami. When paired with bold and robust wines, the flavors of the cheese are enhanced and the wine’s complex flavors are complemented by the cheese’s nutty and tangy notes.