Happy International Sherry Week! And what a better way to pay homage to Sherry than by exploring how to pair the different styles with food.
If you are a new reader visiting the blog for the first time, and you don’t know what Sherry is, I recommend you to brush up by reading my previous posts on Sherry:
1) Manzanilla and Fino Sherries (biological aged Sherries) and
2) Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Oloroso and PX (oxidative aged Sherries). These two posts will help you understand, discover and enjoy these delicious fortified wines.
But first and the most important thing when matching Sherry is to be aware that Sherry is a very complex wine that has 307 molecular aromatic compounds (more than any other wine) and these aromatics are going to be key when choosing what foods to match with them. In Spain, in Jerez, to be more precise, there’s a saying:
“If it swims (fish/ seafood), match it with a Manzanilla or Fino”. Manzanilla and Fino are the lightest, more delicate styles of Sherry and are always dry.
“If it flies (chicken/poultry), match it with an Amontillado”. Amontillados have aromatic notes of both aging processes: biological and oxidative. They can be dry or medium.
Traditionally, in Spain, Sherry is normally served with Tapas (appetizers at no extra cost). I still remember when I was there, when $1 Euro would buy me a serving of Manzanilla or Fino with potato chips and olives. Other Tapas also cost $1 Euro per serving; what a feast it was to try all these delicious appetizers (pinchos), cheeses, Potato tortilla matched with a different copita of Sherry! If you live in the tri-state area, I recommend you to visit Mercado Little Spain, the place to taste and buy some of the best tapas (as well as cheese, ham and olives) in the US.
That said, Sherry can be served with so much more than Marcona almonds or Manchego cheese, the lightest styles for example; the Manzanilla and Fino sherries that naturally have notes of iodine, seaweed, saltiness, almonds and yeast extract in their aromatic profiles are a great match with all types of umami foods such as sushi (my favorite), poke, prawns, fried shrimps, calamari, fish and chips, cold soups like gazpacho, oysters and green salads. Match your Fino, either regular, en rama (which means with minimum fining or filtering) or Pasado, (which is slightly oxidized), with cured hams or other cured meats like Chorizo, all types of croquettes and turnovers (empanadillas), vinegary appetizers, especially olives, white anchovies and mini onions, grilled sardines, mojama (which is salted cured tuna), stuffed piquillo peppers, Mahi Mahi or flounder in garlic or butter sauce, grilled octopus and seafood Paella.
Match your Amontillado and Palo Cortado that have notes of caramel, bruised apple, nuts and soy aromas with teriyaki dishes, including tuna, duck or pork, caramelized dishes such as onion or leek tarts, roasted pork, braised artichokes, sauteed or grilled mushrooms and onions, grilled fish such as tuna, barbecue ribs and matured hard cheeses. Amontillado Sherry can also be used to dress up sauces or soups, adding an extra wow to your recipe; I confess to often adding a touch of Amontillado to my pumpkin or carrot soups.
Oloroso Sherries that show roasted walnuts, cinnamon, vanilla, maple syrup and toffee notes can match with bigger and more flavorful dishes such as pulled pork sandwiches, steaks (lamb, beef and duck) morcilla (black pudding), hearty stews like oxtails in tomato sauce, even roasted game like Thanksgiving Turkey! Amontillado or Oloroso Sherry will be a great pairing to your Thanksgiving feast, since its spiciness will match with all your sweet and savory side dishes.
Always keep in mind that in the case of the Olorosos, that go through oxidative aging, the flavors of the wines will concentrate even further, during aging, making these wines even more intense, and it's their intensity that will allow a match with hearty/ big dishes.
Now, if you are like me, (someone who drinks sweet Sherries in the winter) whether these are Cream, Medium Cream or Pale cream, besides drinking them on its own, you can pair them with foie gras or blue cheese for a classic sweet/ salty combination, and of course with all types of desserts including chocolate based cakes and cookies, cinnamon buns, pecan pies, walnut cakes, baklava (my favorite), sweet potato pie, etc.
Sweet and floral Moscatel Sherries that have a delicious orange peel, honey and quince aromas will match very well with any orange/ citrus flavored cakes, pies, creamy fruit tarts, flan or crème brûlée. And finally PX, which is the most luscious sherry of all styles and thick as a syrup, showing prune, dates and chocolate notes, will be a good match to ice cream or on vanilla ice cream as they have it in Spain, dark bitter chocolate, tiramisu, sticky toffee pudding or churros (Spanish fritters).
To better enjoy these wines serve them as follows:
Serve Manzanilla and Finos at the same temperature you would serve any white wine, or at 41º- 45º F. Pale cream (sweetened Fino) should be served at 44º- 48º F. Amontillado, Palo Cortado and Oloroso, can be served warmer, at 53º- 58º F. Consume Manzanilla and Fino within 3 to 4 days after opening. The oxidative sherries can last a bit longer, actually the more exposed to oxygen they are, the longer they can last, but no more than 2 weeks, keep them in the fridge or use a Repour stopper to keep it for longer.
My recommendations include 3 of my favorite sherries of all time, that you can find anywhere in the US!
Tio Pepe Fino Sherry, $16.99
Made from 100 % Palomino Fino grapes grown on Albariza soils, sourced from the Carrascal and Macharnudo vineyards. The wine undergoes its aging under flor in the Solera system for an average of 4 years.
Elegant and dry Fino, showing blanched almonds and green olive notes. Nice bracing finish!
Williams & Humbert, Dry Sack Medium Sherry, $18.99
A blend of Palomino Fino and PX grapes, this wine was aged in the
Solera system for 6 years. Seductive off-dry sherry, showing exotic roasted walnuts, cinnamon, golden raisin and toffee notes. Delish!
Lustau East India Solera Cream Sherry $27.99
A blend of Palomino Fino and PX grapes, this wine was aged in a Solera system for a minimum of 15 years. Sweet sherry showing molasses, rum raisin and chocolate notes, WOW! outstanding.
So, isn't it time you explore the world of Sherry? Cheers! Silvina
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