So I'm in charge of vermouth, aperitif wines, Pineau des Charentes, and other fortified wines here at K&L, but the sherry department falls to Spanish wine buyer Joe Manekin. I love sherry. It tastes delicious on it's own, it mixes well into cocktails, and, when dry, it pairs well with difficult foods like olives or nutty cheeses. When sweet, it can enhance a sweet dessert or a blue cheese plate like nothing else. It's amazing the variety of flavors that this brandy-infused, solera-aged wine can impart on the palate. For this reason, even though it doesn't fall under my buying domain, that I would like to start introducing more customers to Jerez.
I put together a cheese and olive plate last night and paired it with our new Valdespino "Inocente" Single Vineyard Fino. Fino sherry is a very dry and sometimes austere aperitif that can have a salty or briny character, hence a perfect match for those garlic-macerated gourmet olives from Whole Foods and that block of aged Gouda I got from the Ferry Building last weekend. While I love pouring spirits for our customers, I am a bit disappointed by the fact that most of my expertise helps people after their meal rather than during it. Sherry is the closest that the spirits department can come to enhancing our gastronomy and that excites me. There is so much to learn about Jerez and I'm in a real mood to hit the books and do my drinkin' homework.
As I type this I'm sipping on this dry amontillado from Herederos de Argüeso and loving every sip. I've got a bowl of toasty almonds and some sheep cheese to nibble on while I soak up all the toffee flavors. Toffee normally equates to sweet, but this amontillado is completely dry. Orange peel and nutty, oxidized notes round out the sherry and help ease it down into my gullet.
The best part about sherry - it's inexpensive and it lasts a good while after you open it. Spirits lovers take note - all the food pairing benefits of wine coupled with the long-lasting fortified nature of a spirit! We should all be drinking more sherry.