Vino at the Chateau tackles sherry
Most people remember sherry as a sweet and a slightly boring dessert wine usually served at the local community centre for Aunty Cherry’s 80th birthday. But sherry is so much more than that.
It’s time for sherry to spring forth from grandma’s old closet and hit the table along with fish, shellfish, chicken, veal, beef – well, the combinations are practically infinite. To regard sherry in gastronomic circles on a par with other wines may seem strange to many people, but it’s difficult to deny its potential.
After a trip to the south of Spain, to the home of sherry in Andalusia to be more precise, I had the opportunity to explore this wonderful world of wine and make some combinations that one wouldn’t ordinarily be accustomed to.
Freshly-caught fish prepared using simple methods and classical ingredients, such as a splash of zesty lemon and lime, lends itself perfectly to the Fino and Manzanilla varieties.
Amontillado complemented the fried chicken in espagnole sauce, while the potent Oloroso lent itself brilliantly to the braised veal and oxtail.
And we mustn’t forget the three sweet variants – Creme, Muscatel and Pedro Ximenes (known as PX) – which are a mesmerising experience when matched up with most desserts.
Same point of departure
In order to be technically defined as a sherry, the wine must be produced in Andalusia, and to be more precise: the area between Jerez, Della Fontera and Sant Cular de Barrameida. The production of sherry begins with a typical and slightly thin white wine made from the Palomino Fino grape. The wine is aged in barrels of American oak and it is essential that the barrels are old and well maintained.
All sherry types have the same point of departure. As opposed to conventional wine production, the barrels are only filled to two-thirds capacity, thus allowing for air and a basis for the formation of flor.
Flor is a thin yeast-like layer that protects the wine from excessive oxidation. And it is precisely this layer that helps provide characteristics to the various types of sherry. For instance, in the case Amontillado and Oloroso the flor layer is breached early leaving the wine to oxidise and take colour.