Sherry is not just for grandma at Christmas

on 22/06/12 at 9:41 am

Wine

It’s time to challenge the stereotypical view of sherry, says Clive Platman.

Nowadays, it’s a sad fact of life that sherry has a rather fusty, old-fashioned image, encapsulated by the bottle of Bristol Cream kept in a sideboard from one year to the next, occasionally taken out for Grandma and then returned to gather even more dust.

The style is generally sweet, heavy and usually badly oxidised because it should have been finished within a few weeks of opening.

Yet visit Spain and sherry is totally different. It’s nearly always dry and it’s meant to be drunk with food. At a tapas bar in Seville, it’s de rigueur to take a copita of fino or manzanilla with a dish of olives, Iberico ham or the local speciality of chickpeas and spinach. For in Andalucia, the fashion is for light, fresh yeasty and bone-dry.

The sherry region is centred on three main towns – Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlucar de Barrameda to the north of Cadiz. It’s distinguished by chalky soils known locally at albarizas and the palomino grape is king.