The full name of this D.O.P. Portuguese cheese is Queijo Amarelo da Beira Baixa, which means: Yellow cheese from the lower Beira. Like many old-world cheesesâ€™ names this one is simply named for the place where it is made, along with a note about its color. Most of the cheeses of Portugal are made with sheep milk, the Amarelo is produced with a mix of goat and sheep, not necessarily 50/50. The milk is coagulated with traditional rennet, unlike most of the other Portuguese cheeses whose milks are coagulated with Cardoon Thistle.
The yellow color comes from the blending of the two milks. The goat milk gives it a lighter color while the sheep milk gives a sandy golden hue. Together these milks come out a little yellowish. More important than the color, the flavor and aroma of the cheese is especially unique. There are certainly other cheeses that are produced with a mix of sheep and goat milk, but not many. This blending of these two milks is what gives this cheese its pairing potential with many wine types. Essentially you get the best of both worlds.
For those wines that generally pair well with cheeses made with goat or sheep milk, these usually work exceptionally well. Recently we tasted the Amarelo in a Cheese & Wine 101 with three Italian wines: a Pinot Bianco, a Nero dâ€™Avola, and a Primitivo. Though it worked pretty well with the Pinot Bianco, the two reds were exceptional matches. The pairing with the reds was one of those matches where either the cheese or the wine is enhanced, or both are.
One of the other qualities that we appreciate about the Amarelo is its long shelf-life. Another point in its favor is the wide diversity of nutrients it offers.