Sherry is one of the most underrated and misunderstood wines of the world. But thankfully this venerable--and versatile--beverage is undergoing a long overdue resurgence. Let’s join this wave and re-imagine our holiday wine pairing traditions!
Sherry is very...unique.
Sherry--the English word for the region of Jerez, Spain where the wine is named and made--is a fortified wine produced in a slew of styles mainly from the neutral-tasting Palomino grape. Like Champagne, it’s a handcrafted wine of process and is southern Spain’s most complex and labor-intensive libation.
Bone dry to lusciously sweet, Sherry comes from a region of vineyards that include the towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Santa Maria, and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. In this “Sherry triangle,” the cake-y, stark white, water-retentive albariza soils allow the Palomino grapes to thrive in the dry Andalusian climate. Two other white grapes--Moscatel and Pedro Ximénez (PX)--are also used to make different styles of Sherry, albeit to a much lesser extent.
Sherry is very…artisanal.
Each style of Sherry is produced according to its own careful and complex recipe. While all Sherries spend time aging in a network of old barrels called a solera, fractional blending and aging under a veil of yeast, or flor, dictates the ultimate style the wine will achieve.
Like an artist with a paintbrush, the winemaker can determine whether to make the lighter and more tangy fino or manzanilla, and therefore age the wine beneath the flor. Alternatively, if the more unctuous and nuttier oloroso or palo cortado Sherry is desired, the wine can be aged oxidatively without the protective layer. If the winemaker wants to produce an amontillado--which some consider to be the perfect Sherry style--the base wine will undergo both flor and oxidative aging in order to achieve a tangy but satiny texture with nutty and fruity flavors.
Finally, sweet Sherries come in several forms ranging from cream sherries, which are oloroso Sherries sweetened with PX or Moscatel, to complex varietal-driven sherries made from raisinated PX grapes.
Sherry is very…versatile.
The myriad styles of Sherry make it Champagne-like its versatility. Your holiday menus are the perfect culinary opportunity to introduce Sherry into your wine rotation. Try the saline, refreshing, and tangy Light Fino del Puerto from the Lustau Almacenista Collection or the Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla with your salty snacks, appetizers, and fried seafood. The crisp, yet nutty and umami flavors of the Amontillado from Barbadillo will complement your spiced pureed soups, butternut squash, stuffing, and roasted turkey. To pair with your rich mashed potatoes, casseroles, and holiday roasts, enjoy the mahogany-hued, walnut-y, and dark- chocolate flavored Oloroso Pata de Gallina from the Lustau Almacenista collection. The elegant and mysterious Lustau Peninsula Palo Cortado is best appreciated as an intermezzo on its own to fully enjoy its nutty, woodsy, vanilla deliciousness. Finally, as a decadent dessert to sip alone or drizzled on top of ice cream, savor Williams Humbert Don Guido Pedro Ximenez. All available locally, these Sherries are best enjoyed well-chilled and soon after the bottle is opened.
Have a Sherry Christmas!
Inspired by this mesmerizing, nuanced, and truly handcrafted wine, Erlinda is determined to bring Sherry back. And she’s succeeding one glass at a time! International Sherry Week officially took place in October but she’s going to keep the momentum going to a Sherry Christmas! Are you interested in learning more about Sherry? Let’s enjoy some together! contact me at email@example.com or visit my website at www.thevinicola.com.