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The Humpday Tipples, Volume Thirteen: Sherry

Sherry Tasting: October 20, 2010

The word "Sherry" conjures up precious few associations for most Americans: tipsy old ladies, tweedy British types listening to the news on the Beeb after a long day at the office, and Steve Perry's solo debut. Thus it was with some trepidation that the Tipplers assembled to taste their way through all seven styles of this historic fortified wine, partly because they knew Jen's introductory "get to know this wine" speech would be longer than usual and partly because they expected to hate the wines. We lured them in with the promise of tapas, but in the end, the group agreed that Sherry was a underrated wine well worth a spot on one's permanent beverage rotation.

There's so much to learn if one wants to get to know Sherry, from the significance of the different local soil types to the importance of flor to the intricacies of the Solera system by which the wine is made. If you want a basic lesson on its vinification, the differences in styles, and some pairing suggestions, the Sherry Council of America and the not-so-secret The Secret Sherry Society will set you right. As for us, we'll save ourselves a few hours of typing and stick to sharing some fun facts.

Now about that tapas: Round one was salted Marcona almonds, assorted Spanish olives, sliced chorizo and prosciutto, asparagus marinated in white wine vinegar/cane syrup/soy sauce/olive oil/lemon juice/garlic, plus wedges of Manchengo, Gorgonzola, and Drunken Goat cheese. Round two included dates stuffed with Gorgonzola and wrapped in Applewood-smoked bacon, toasts brushed with garlic-infused olive oil and topped by either saut´┐Żed shitake mushrooms, grilled grass-fed sirloin, or roasted pork roulade, and patatas bravas. Dessert was dark chocolate squares, a dried fig and almond cake from Spain, and scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with the Pedro Ximénez. Feasting ensued, and six of us put a pretty nice dent in seven bottles of Sherry, which may or may not have led to some soggy-headed tomorrows.

Tapas For Sherry Tasting: October 20, 2010

Tapas For Sherry Tasting: October 20, 2010

Bottle 1: Tio Pepe Gonzalez-Byass Fino Sherry, Spain ($14.99)

Rank Amateurs Said: "it's white!" and "this is Sherry?," pale-medium golden color, distinct aroma, green apple, almonds, high acid, dry, full-medium body, finish just like Marcona almonds with a hint of spice

In a Word: Classic

Paired with Food: A great match for the Manchengo, olives, almonds, and prosciutto especially

Tio Pepe Gonzalez-Byass Fino Sherry

Bottle 2: Bodegas Argüeso Manzanilla San León Sherry, Spain ($12.99)

Rank Amateurs Said: medium golden color, distinct aroma, green apple, salt, dry, brown sugar, toasted fennel seeds, high acid, full-medium body but stills feels light on the palate, finish like toasted Marcona almonds/toasted fennel seed

In a Word: Toasty

Paired with Food: Especially good with the steak toasts, bringing out the pleasantly gamey note in grass-fed beef (and you thought we only mentioned grass-fed to be snooty!)

Bodegas Argüeso Manzanilla San León Sherry

Bottle 3: Bodegas Gutiérrez Colosia Amontillado Sherry, Spain ($31.99)

Rank Amateurs Said: amber color, distinct aroma, "smell reminds me of a Werther's Original," butterscotch, "smells sweet but tastes totally dry," dry, nutty, "cooked tomato," medium-full body, medium acid, finish of toasted hazelnuts

In a Word: Hazelnut

Paired with Food: Very nice with the chorizo and the steak

Bodegas Gutiérrez Colosia Amontillado Sherry

Bottle 4: Alvear Asuncion Oloroso Sherry, Spain ($26.99)

Rank Amateurs Said: dark amber color, dry, distinct aroma, "Corn Pops!" and "seared foie gras," maple, toasted nuts, toasted pastry, brown sugar, medium acid, medium-full body, long finish

In a Word: Delicious

Paired with Food: This was the overall fan favorite, and while it was nice with most everything, it really hit the spicy chorizo perfectly

Alvear Asuncion Oloroso Sherry

Bottle 5: Lustau Palo Cortado Península Sherry, Spain ($14.99)

Rank Amateurs Said: medium amber color, distinct aroma, witchhazel, mild nuttiness, salt, toasted brioche, "less distinctive character than the others," medium acid, medium-full body, finish of toasted nuts

In a Word: Mixed

Paired with Food: Good with steak and the bacon-wrapped dates

Lustau Palo Cortado Península Sherry

Bottle 6: Lustau Rare Cream "Superior" Sherry (Spain) ($26.99)

Rank Amateurs Said: deep amber color, raisins, "this is what I think of when I think of Sherry," "dad's drink," rich, glycerin, balanced sweetness, low acid, full body, long finish of raisins

In a Word: Sip

Paired with Food: Great match for Gorgonzola, otherwise better sipped solo or with the fig and almond cake

Lustau Rare Cream "Superior" Sherry

Bottle 7: Lustau Pedro Ximénez San Emilio Sherry (Spain) ($26.99)

Rank Amateurs Said: very dark amber color, "like opening a box of Sun Maid raisins," smooth, no acid, full body, very sweet, glycerin, syrupy, "only two notes: sugar and raisins," long sweet finish

In a Word: Raisiny

Paired with Food: Fantastic poured over vanilla ice cream, good with very dark chocolate, nice with the Gorgonzola, but overwhelmingly sweet sipped alone

Lustau Pedro Ximénez San Emilio Sherry

Receipt, Sherry Tasting: October 20, 2010

Links

Tio Pepe
Bodegas Argüeso
Bodegas Gutiérrez Colosia
Bodegas Lustau

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