Sherry: Not Just For Cooking Anymore

When you think of Sherry, a few things come to mind.  It might have been your Great-Aunt Matilda’s favorite drink (does Harvey’s Bristol Cream come to mind?).  You may love to cook with it or you may associate it with drinking it out of a paper bag.  What ever your connection, Sherry drinking has been on the decline for the past 10 years or so.  Sherry is a fortified wine that comes from or around the town of Jerez, Spain.   One of the biggest myths about Sherry is that is tends to be sweet, but actually it can be made in a dry or sweet style.  That said; remember that Cream Sherries are always sweet. 

Sherry comes in many different styles so here are a few to consider:

Manzanilla Dry – ­ This is light, very dry style sherry with delicate flavours. Pair it with almonds, ham or even olives.  Most of these Sherries have a saltiness to them that is picked up from the near by ocean.  Made with the Palomino grape variety.  Try the Lustau Papirusa Manzanilla Sherry available at Vintages (Ontario only).  Serve chilled. 

Amontillado Dry -­ Another dry sherry with hints of smoke and raisins with a distinct nutty bouquet, medium Amber colour.  Aged in the Solera method where new sherry is continually being blended with other aging Sherries to ensure consistency.   It is made with the Palomino grape variety.  Try the Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Los Arcos, Parker gave it a score of 90 which is available through Vintages.  Serve slightly chilled.  Great on its own or with some Spanish cheeses. 

Oloroso – ­ Don¹t let this Amber coloured sherry scare you away!   This is a great match with tapas, salty nuts, olives, antipasto and my favorite Manchego cheese from Spain.  It is a dry sherry made from Palomino grapes. Try the Marqués Del Real Tesoro Almirante Oloroso Sherry for $16.95.  Serve slightly chilled. 

Pedro Ximenez -­ Sweet, Sweet, Sweet!  This is a classic dessert sherry made exclusively with the Pedro Ximenez grape.  Lots of figs, dried fruits, honey and raisins flavours.  How they acheive the sweetness is by drying the grapes under the hot Spanish sun (therefore concentrating the sugars) then aging in Solera.   Try the Osborne Pedro Ximenez 1827 Sweet Sherry over your next bowl of vanilla ice cream, it is an amazing pairing! 

It is definitely an acquired taste but hopefully after reading this, it may just inspire you to pick one up.  And if you decide that you don’t like Sherry, you can always keep it around for cooking.

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