International Sherry Week is an annual global celebration showcasing Sherry wines through events and tastings at venues across 25 countries.
Sherry is from the region of Cadiz in south west Andulusia in Spain, or more specifically the immediate surrounds of the city of Jerez de la Frontera.
It is produced primarily from the Palomino grape, but comes in a wide variety of styles ranging from the light Fino and Manzanilla which make refreshing aperitif wines perhaps to accompany tapas, through to the darker oxidised Oloroso and Amontillado. Sweet Sherry tends to be made from Moscatel or Pedro Ximénez grapes, blended with Palomino.
Sherry tends to not carry a specific vintage but rather is a blend of different years to ensure both consistency and a quality product.
Far from being a drink for old ladies or to spice up a trifle, Sherry is rapidly reinvigorating its reputation and becoming increasingly fashionable as a lively and refreshing aperitif wine. Its also relatively low in calories compared to other alcoholic beverages, with a typical glass containing only 45 calories.
“Sherry should be ranked as one of the world’s great wines and – perhaps precisely because it is unfashionable – it’s certainly one of the world’s greatest value wines”, says Simon Broad of Ten Green Bottles on Jubilee Square.
Henry Butler of Butler’s Wine Cellar agrees: “Sherry is such an underrated drink in the UK, it packs a massive amount of flavour into an affordable package. The market has improved, but it still achieves tiny sales compared to back when the Sherry market was in it’s prime. There are so many more drink options now as opposed to forty years ago, so perhaps this is as good as it gets for sherry.
“Sherry as a category is misunderstood therefore we are missing a trick – its a wonderfully flexible wine”, says Paul Morgan, of Fourth and Church on Church Road in Hove. “It can make a perfect standalone aperitif, mixed into cocktails, served as a long drink, matched with food and also makes a great digestif at the end of a meal”.
The lighter Sherrys such as Manzanilla and Fino should be served cold straight from the fridge. These wines won’t keep for long and certainly shouldn’t be left out on the shelf. That said the heavier styles aren’t quite so fussy, allowing you to enjoy the drink over a few weeks.
In Spain, Sherry is often paired with foods. Fino and Manzanilla are both dry and fresh white Sherrys and can handle acidic foods such as marinated vegetables and salty fish. Meanwhile the spicy Amontillado is the perfect partner for lighter game meats including guinea fowl and partridge.
“The complexity of Sherry wine allows good quality, simple ingredients to shine”, says Simon from Ten Green Bottles. “A bone-dry manzanilla with top quality olives is one of my favourite food and wine matches”.
Fourth and Church, along with Butler’s Wine Cellar in Kemp Town, the Ginger Pig on Hove Street and Ten Green Bottles in Jubilee Square, will be showcasing a wide range of Sherry wines this weekend including tapas style food pairings.
“We’ll have around eight different wines open so lots for guests to try”, says Paul of Fourth and Church. “We’ve also created a small plate tasting menu with each dish matched with a different Sherry style. And our knowledgeable team are always happy to pour tasters and talk guests through our range”.