Just in case it had slipped your notice I thought I’d let you know that International Sherry Week is coming up on 7th-13th November. No, no, please hear me out!
Long seen as the preserve of maiden aunts and retired vicars, sherry is on something of a roll and I, for one, blooming well love the stuff. As you know, sherry comes from the towns of Jerez and Sanlucar de Barrameda in the north-eastern corner of the province of Cádiz at the very foot of Spain. Here the salt flats, the pine woods, the gently rolling white hills, the mighty Guadalquivir River and the Atlantic Ocean all combine to give a terroir that’s unique and ideal for producing and ageing these sublime wines.
Sales are up and thanks to the current vogue in the UK for fine Spanish restaurants and tapas bars and the fact that the trendiest of mixologists are now including sherry in many of their cocktails, Spain’s greatest gift to the world is gaining a whole new audience.
And, goodness me, what’s not to like? After all there is a sherry for every occasion. Bone dry, salty, tangy finos and manzanillas make exquisite aperitifs. In my opinion, they are right up there alongside the martini and the chilled glass of fizz in the pantheon of pre-prandials. They go well with any tapa you care to name and are especially tasty on their own.
Amontillado (effectively an aged fino) is gold and nutty and great with jamón ibérico, roasted almonds and cheeses (or on its own). Oloroso is full and flavoursome and can go with rich meat dishes (or on its own), whilst the coal-black, richly sweet, unctuous Pedro Ximénez is wonderful at the end of a meal poured over vanilla ice cream (or, yep you’ve guessed it, on its own).
I had a chilled glass – actually, two – of La Gitana Manzanilla last night before supper and it hit the spot just so. Bone dry and savoury, it was deeply refreshing and deliciously tasty. After a hugely irritating day, it lifted my spirits up just so whilst also making my appetite promptly sit up and take notice of the fabulous rabbit and prune casserole that Mrs Ray had kindly prepared.
International Sherry Week will see all manner of restaurants, bars, wine merchants and supermarkets host tastings, discussions, sherry and food matching classes and heaven knows what else. And if you’ve not touched a glass of sherry in a while now’s the time to see what all the fuss is about and if you have, let the week remind you why you love sherry so.