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Wednesday
Jan052011

Jerez, Otherwise Known As Sherry

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. 

-David Driscoll

Reader Comments (3)

Sherry is good stuff. I use it primarily for cocktails but when I open a bottle I often enjoy a glass or two to use it up. My biggest complaint about Sherry is that it doesn't keep that long. The dry stuff is only good 3-4 days refrigerated, mediums maybe a week. It seems every bottle of Sherry I've ever bought I've had to toss the last 1/3 of the bottle which kills me.

I would love to find out more about sherries through this blog.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFil

I think I'm going to get Joe Manekin to guest post a good article about sherry here.

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid D

Fil,

You are right in that the driest sherries, finos, generally are the shortest lived. But my experience is generally that the better ones not only retain their freshness for a week or more in the fridge, but the very best ones (the Valdespino Inocente David wrote up comes to mind) actually REQUIRE a few days to really open up and show at their peak. As for the more oxidized sherries (amontilllado and oloroso) these have a drinking window of weeks, even months, once opened. Remember, they are sitting in large barrels for at least a decade, and this slow exposure to oxygen helps to prevent rapid deterioration once they are bottled. True, they are not as bullet proof as whisky and other spirits, but they are a lot more so than I think the public (and, many experts) give them credit for.

David, you just wrote a good sherry article! In particular, good notes on the Argueso Amontillado. I look forward to adding the occasional sherry/madeira/port post.

Salud!
JM

January 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Manekin

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