Made for food: the joys of Sherry
Author: Rebecca Lamont
From the delicate, almond flavours of Fino to the slightly richer, nutty notes of Amontillado, Sherry wines are deliciously versatile and pair fantastically with food. Rebecca Lamont tells us more about this often-overlooked style of wine.
I always champion the underdog, but I can be pragmatic too. If you told me there is only one wine I can have on my desert island or for the rest of my life, I’d plump for our Own Selection Fino Sherry, no question. It’s my go-to and I adore it. I reserve the Amontillado for those special “treat me” moments. Both are delicious, keep well in the fridge and are very affordable. Tragically, the demand for these graceful elixirs is low, even though they are hugely labour-intensive, intensely complex, and incredibly versatile.
Fino Sherry goes with everything – and yes, I mean everything. My motto is: “if in in doubt, choose Fino”. It will never let you down. Try it with your favourites. Mine are Bolognese, croque monsieur, croque madame (can you think of any other wine that goes with a fried egg?), truffled anything (crisps, brie, popcorn), smashed avocado, stuffed aubergine, hummus, beans on toast, sashimi – the list goes on. Even chocolate brownies are great. I reserve Amontillados for purely sipping, as opposed to guzzling, with food. It brings out a gentle nutty nuance that marries supremely with consommé, tempura, artisan cheese, crunchy nibbles and traditional Iberian cured meats.
Homegrown delicacies from Spain, particularly from the Jerez region where most Finos and Amontillados are made, are heart-warming options too. In fact, the food tastes even better with them. Try with pan con mate; Marcona almonds (my absolute favourite – I’d need them on the desert island please); hand-carved, cured black-foot pig; Gordal olives stuffed with fresh orange; fabada; paella; octopus; shrimp; sopa de pescado; and morcilla de Bourgos. On home turf, I’m in heaven supping with kedgeree or roast chicken, and I can’t wait to have a glass with English asparagus. If it’s all you’ve got with Easter lamb and Jersey potatoes, I’d holler with joy. What’s more, you’re receiving all this wonderful complexity for a comparatively modest price.
The value is phenomenal. You can find this bottle of Fino for £12.95 and Amontillado for £15.95, which, quite frankly, is the bargain of all bargains. To be honest, I don’t really understand how the producers manage to sustain their business, because the production is breathtakingly complex, and these wines are aged for longer than the most expensive wines in the world made today.
The extended ageing reworks a plain white wine, made in the heat, to something refreshing, extraordinary and intricate. They become delicate and fine, bitter and yeasty and a touch nutty. This is why they are perfect for food. Incidentally, bitter and yeast components are on trend currently. Cocktail bars are getting in on the act too, producing dynamic drinks that are embracing these wines as key ingredients. So maybe Fino fashion is just around the corner, after all.
Sherry was the height of fashion in Shakespeare’s day – it was the go-to drink, and its day will come again. In the meantime, you can head out to the trendy, tiled, small Spanish bars in your local town or city, or have yourself a tapas crawl around the bars in Seville or Córdoba. Maybe meet your mixologist to shake up a new Amontillado cocktail.
Or like me, put your feet up, Marconas and truffle crisps assembled, supper on the go, take the first sip of the Own Selection Fino and exhale: bliss. You have everything you need.
A quick guide to the key Sherry styles
Fino: dry, yeasty, almondy; pale lemon in colour
Manzanilla: dry, yeasty, almondy; pale lemon in colour and produced nearer the coast
Amontillado: dry, yeasty and delicate, with an amber colour and nutty character
Oloroso: dry and nutty; deep brown with notes of coffee
Palo Cortado: a dry, magical mystery wine; complex and rich, with a brown colour
Pedro Ximénez: sweet and rich, with a deep dark brown colour and notes of toffee and chocolate
Discover our Fino Sherry here, and our Amontillado Sherry here