Now that the small-plate craze is here for good, it’s time to embrace another Spanish tradition: sherry. Spain’s answer to port is produced in the “Sherry Triangle” region on the Atlantic Ocean; only sherries produced in the Triangle can be labeled as such.
Like port, sherry is fortified with brandy, and there are several styles. A good place to start is the basic three: dry, medium-dry and sweet.
Often described as bitingly dry, Fino and Manzanilla are elegant and delicately flavored. Manzanilla is brinier than Fino, but both pair well with nuts, cured meats, chorizo, cheeses like Manchego, olives, and seafood. While it’s most often sipped beforehand, many Spaniards drink dry sherry throughout a meal. Some even recommend it with sushi.
On the medium-dry spectrum, the nutty, amber-hued amontillado sherry has hints of bitter chocolate, coffee and raisins. It pairs well with poultry and game; full-bodied, hard cheeses; hearty soups; and oily fish like sardines. Oloroso, a sweeter, darker, richer sherry, is typically served at cellar temperature and stands up nicely to red meats and game.
Wonderful with desserts (especially semi-sweet chocolate) and piquant, creamy blue cheeses like Cabrales and Roquefort, the chestnut-hued Moscatel has a softer flavor and is heavier on floral and citrus notes than its richer, darker counter-part, Pedro XimÃ©nez, which resonates with dried-fruit overtones. Both are best as an aperitif—chilled or over ice. You’ll find a decent sherry selection at the Ardmore and Devon Wine & Spirits stores, or peruse tenstartapas.com and sherry.org.
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