In my first article, I quoted Lettie Teague who said, “It’s hard to find a wine that’s been unpopular as long as Sherry has.” Yet wine aficionados seem to love Sherry.
Why the disconnect? I think Amy Fleming nails it when she says that many people associate Sherry “with that disgusting sweet liquor they sipped as a child from auntie’s glass when no one was looking.”
It’s time to get over our PTSD that arose from that long-ago time with our aunt. It’s time to realize that Sherry is a high-value, food-friendly wine. Again, according to Amy Fleming, “British appreciation of pale, dry sherries, which are nothing like the stuff granny served in dainty, cut-glass schooners, has been bubbling up for a decade, largely thanks to the rise in very good tapas restaurants.”
In fact, I was talking to my British friend Helen who said that her family has a wonderful tradition where the chefs in her family, which happily include her, imbibe in Sherry wine as they’re cooking the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. They are happy as clams, and everyone wonders why they are so eager to be the cooks ☺ Helen’s personal favorite is Harveys Bristol Cream, since she comes from Bristol.
My recommendation is to try Harveys Bristol Cream next Thanksgiving or Christmas, whether you’re the chef or not. Here are a few more recommendations for approaching a Sherry tasting.
1. Set Aside Expectations. Actually, if you’re expecting that yucky taste from your childhood, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised. But if you can set aside your preconceived notions, and approach your Sherry tasting with a zen-like attitude of pure exploration, I think you’ll be better off, especially since there is such a wide array of Sherries to choose from.
2. Taste from light Fino to dark Oloroso. Refer back to my last article that included Winemag.com’s fantastic descriptions and food pairing recommendations for each type of Sherry. Take notes. Can you taste the nuttiness in Amontillado? The regal richness of Palo Cortado? Do you like Fino on its own? How about with olives? Or peanuts?
3. Serve most Sherries chilled, and drink soon. The drier, lighter Sherries are best drunk chilled, and once opened should be stored upright in a cool place. A refrigerator is ideal, but a cool cellar will do until opened. Sherry should be drunk within a few days, for the lighter ones, to a few weeks, for the darker ones.
I am just beginning my Sherry journey, and I think I’m going to enjoy it very much. I hope you will join me on this journey. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area and are doing a Sherry tasting, please invite me!