Waterford Whiskey Society were delighted to have their second in a series of additional member tasting events recently, and this one focused on an introduction to Sherry, an often misunderstood drink which has been made for over 3,000 years, for the most part in the same way as it is today.
The line-up for the evening featured the Bodega Lustau range whose origins date back to 1896. The tasting was Led by Julie Ward, Food & Wine Customer Advisor and alcohol buyer for Ardkeen Quality Food Store, Waterford.
Sherry is a fortified wine made from white Palomino grapes that are grown near the city of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain. Often taken with food, Sherry is hugely versatile and goes very well with food such as with those suggested below.
We looked at the origin and production methods of Sherry and tasted the drier styles of Fino and Manzanilla, through to the richer Amontillado and Oloroso, to the decadent Pedro Ximenez and more. With many Bodegas active in preparing casks for the Whiskey sector, the two drinks are very much intertwined.
Fino Peurto: Almonds
Manzanilla Papirusa: Cherizo or a hard sheeps’ cheeses such as Manchego
Amontilado Los Arcos: Iberico ham or for cheese, a good cheddar or aged Comté
Oloroso Don Nuno: Aged Gruyère
Pedro Ximénez San Emilio: Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Ice cream
East India Solera: Shortbread
Sherry is best served at around 4-9 Degrees (chilled in a fridge for 30 minutes), while the Fino and Manzanilla are usually be drunk within about a week once opened, the richer Amontillado, Oloroso, and PX can last for up to year.
After fermentation is complete, the base wines are fortified with grape spirit in order to increase their final alcohol content. Wines classified as suitable for aging as fino and Manzanilla are fortified until they reach a total alcohol content of 15.5 per cent by volume. As they age in a barrel, they develop a layer of flor—a yeast-like growth that helps protect the wine from excessive oxidation.
Those wines that are classified to undergo aging as oloroso are fortified to reach an alcohol content of at least 17 per cent. They do not develop flor and so oxidise slightly as they age, giving them a darker colour. Because the fortification takes place after fermentation, most sherries are initially dry, with any sweetness being added later.
Wines from different years are aged and blended using a solera system before bottling, so that bottles of sherry will not usually carry a specific vintage year and can contain a small proportion of very old wine.
This was a fantastic introduction to Sherry and besides informing our members about the Sherry influence on their favourite tipple (Whiskey), it also converted a few to the idea of drinking Sherry generally and no doubt some bottles were purchased soon after.
Thanks again to Julie for her excellent knowledge and for the members that attending.