Savoring Northern Italy’s Most Cherished Cheese (VIDEO)

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Going Inside Grana Padano Cheese Production HQ

Savoring Italy’s Most Cherished Cheese

Dr. Angelo Stoppa and Monique Soltani

In this episode of Wine Oh TV, Monique Soltani heads back to Northern Italy and gets an inside look at how one of the oldest and most famous cheeses in the world is produced.

Nearly 900 years ago, monks created one of the world’s oldest hard cheeses, Grana Padano. The famous cheese from the Po Valley was created in 1135 at the Chiaravalle Abbey, just south of Milan, Italy.

Back then, making cheese was a way of using the leftover milk. The monks aged it for many months which gave the cheese its hard and grainy texture.  The monks called it caseus vetus, or ‘old cheese’ while the locals called it formaggio di grana (‘grana’ means ‘grainy’). Padano, which refers to the Po Valley Plain area of northern Italy.

Savoring Italy’s Most Cherished Cheese

Monique Soltani at the Grana Padano Factory

The centuries old recipe of Grana Padano is a hard, slow-ripened, semi-fat cheese from Italy, is similiar Parmigiano Reggiano or, like we call it here in the U.S., “parmesan” cheese. The Grana Padano production area extends along the Po Valley and includes 32 provinces, from Piedmont to Veneto, from Trento to Piacenza; today, production is concentrated in 13 provinces.

In 1996, GRANA PADANO obtained Protected Designation of Origin (D.O.P) recognition by the European Union. All three main varieties of Grana cheese carry the label D.O.P., guaranteeing their authenticity and origin of production methods.

GRANA PADANO AGED FOR 9 TO 16 MONTHS

Savoring Italy’s Most Cherished Cheese

Monique Soltani at the Grana Padano Factory

Aged between 9 and 16 months, Grana Padano PDO is softer and less grainy than the more mature versions. Pale yellow in color, its taste is mild, milky and delicate.

At this age, Grana Padano is a versatile “young” cheese perfect as a topping for meats and vegetables, for sauces and gratins, and is ideal as an appetizer or used as shavings on a fresh salad or beef carpaccio.

The lightness of this cheese makes it perfect with young white and sparkling wines.

GRANA PADANO AGED FOR OVER 16 MONTHS

With a soft straw-yellow color, Grana Padano “over 16 months” has a grainier consistency and crumbles when cut. The sweetness in its flavor is less noticeable and it has a stronger, though never overpowering, tangy taste that make this vintage ideal for grating or simply as part of a cheese-board.

Great for hot dishes like quiches,soufflésandvegetablepies. Ideal for pasta sauces,risottos and soups.It pairs very well with young, fresh red wines of moderate intensity and body.

GRANA PADANO “RISERVA”

Savoring Italy’s Most Cherished CheeseAged for at least 20 months, Grana Padano Riserva is distinctly grainy in texture, and has a consistent deep straw-yellow in color. When aged for 24 months or more, it acquires a richer, fuller flavor, but without becoming too aggressive. Besides being a special ingredient in a great variety of dishes, Grana Padano RISERVA also works extremely well when served as part of a luxurious cheese-board with nuts, fruits and chutneys.

A choice for gourmets and connoisseurs! Due to its distinct flavor, Grana Padano RISERVA should be enjoyed with a soft red, intense, tannic wine which has a moderate to high alcohol content and a lingering and persistent flavor, but also with a full-body and rich red wine.

It also makes a great end to a meal, when paired with sweet dessert wines (like “passito”) to balance the strong yet never overpowering taste of the cheese

FUN FACTS

  • It takes 15 liters of naturally partially-skimmed milk to produce 1 kg of Grana Padano PDO
  • 30g of Grana Padano PDO contain the same nutritional value to approximately half a liter of milk (1 pint of milk)
  • 50g of Grana Padano PDO provide 600mg of Calcium – 60% of the daily requirement for adults, 50 % of an adolescent’s requirement.
  • Grana Padano is lactose free due to the characteristics of its production and ageing process. It contains a Galactose content of less than 10mg per 100g.
  • Grana Padano also contains important proteins, iron, vitamins and minerals
    A daily intake of 12 months-aged Grana Padano is proven to help reduce hypertension
  • REAL GRANA PADANO PDO CHEESE can be recognized by the small diamond lozenges on its rind. So always check there is some rind on the piece you are buying.

*This video was produced in partnership Gran Via Società e Comunicazione.

Monique Soltani

Monique Soltani is the Executive Producer and Host of Wine Oh TV. Wine Oh TV is the only weekly wine show on television. Watch Wine Oh TV with Monique Soltani Wednesdays at 8:30pm on Comcast (Ch. 104/819HD).

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