The least cool tipple ever (it’s drunk by people who say “tipple” for a start) just got, um, cool.
Sherry is for blowsy suburban housewives, grannies and prissy little half-men. Right? Not any more. Thanks partly to a surge in the popularity of tapas, it has started turning up at some of the hippest restaurants and bars in the country.
Tim Luther, the proprietor of Copita in London’s Soho, explains the appeal. “A good sherry is more flexible than either red or white wine. It’s far more than just an after-dinner drink: you can drink it with a vast array of foods, too.”
Sherry is produced in Spain, where the towns of Jerez, El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda are known as the “sherry triangle”. Sherry production is a subtle process: grapes are fermented and then fortified with alcohol. The alcohol added dictates the type of sherry produced — from bone dry fino to a sweet Pedro Ximénez.
To guide us through the options, we asked Luther and Simon Field, master of wine at Berry Bros & Rudd wine merchants, to choose the five sherries that every man should have in his drinks cabinet. For more details, visit copita.co.uk and barrica.co.uk
(From left to right, above)
“Amontillado is superb,” Luther says. “It’s age-oxidised, so you can keep it for a couple of weeks once it’s open.” Fortified to between 16 and 18 per cent alcohol, it is amber coloured, with a smooth texture. Serve cool, but never chilled. Fernando de Castilla Antique Amontillado, £22, waitrosewine.com
Pedro Ximénez is one of the sweetest types of sherry — an ideal match to any kind of dessert or cheese. Reveal your sherry mastery by casually referring to it as “PX” as you serve it up at the end of a meal. Too sweet for some, but a great after-dinner drink. Gonzalez Byass Noe, £18, thewhiskyexchange.com
A fino is dry, pale, and best served cold as an aperitif, especially with tapas. “It’s definitely a drink for the beginning of a meal,” Luther says.
“Serve it with meats, olives and almonds.” Drink within two days of opening; it will lose its flavour if left longer. Gonzalez Byass Fino Dos Palmas, £18, bbr.com
“A good oloroso should have an almost walnutty character,” Field says. Its fortified alcohol means that it will last for much longer than most sherries. Usually very dark, with hints of chocolate, it’s a perfect complement to red meats. Emilio Lustau Don Nuno Dry Oloroso, £15, simplywinesdirect.co.uk
An extremely dry style of fino, the manzanilla grape grows on the Spanish coast, and has a freshly acidic, salty character. “This is perfect for drinking on a hot evening,” Field says.
“Quite a complex sherry for beginners, but hugely rewarding.” La Seguidilla Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda, £12, bbr.com
Photograph by Martha Pavlidou
Words by Max Olesker and Henrietta Hitchcock