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10 July 2006

Very Simply Sherry III: Sherry Comes to Dinner

JerezlogoCross-posted at the Scotch Blog - an excellent resource for Whisky imbibers.

Future Sherry lovers of planet earth!  You have been fortified with the knowledge of Sherry's history, how its produced and the grape varieties involved.  Perhaps more importantly, you now understand the major styles of Sherry (read part II for a Sherry style refresher).  Still, the question remains:  "When do we eat?"  Prepare yourself.  Sherry is coming to dinner.

Part 3: Sherry Comes to Dinner

If you've ever sipped Sherry in a restaurant, chances are it was a sweet, dark, sticky Oloroso such as Cream Sherry.  However, Fino, Manzanilla and Amontillado Sherrys are serious food wines. - They can serve either as an accompaniment to appetizers, or as the table wine for a sit-down dinner.  Prepare yourself for a bevy of Sherry-friendly recipe ideas.

Ain't Nothin' But a (Dinner) Party, Ya'll

Finos (from Jerez) and Manzanillas (from Sanlucar) are the lightest, most delicate Sherrys.  Even though these wines are fortified (up to 15% alcohol), they taste surprisingly fresh and light.  These styles of Sherry are often described as possessing a salty/tangy flavor.  Indeed, Fino & Manzanilla Sherrys are the embodiment of the oft-overused wine adjective, "bone-dry."  The number one food caution when it comes to these wines is this:  Avoid clobbering light Sherry with heavy sauces and aggressive spices.  Focus on fresh flavors and subtle spices.  My favorite food matches with Fino & Manzanilla are appetizers/tapas - perfect for a casual get-together.  A few Fino (and Manzanilla)-friendly foods:

Sherrydinner Manchego Cheese - This is one of my favorite cheeses.  It's a 'slight' cheese - slightly creamy, slightly salty and slightly earthy.  Cut a few Manchego cubes, add roasted almonds, olives (green ones with big pits) and a Fino; and you've got yourself and instant Tapas party.

(yes, it's supposed to be served cold) - Try either a classic recipe or modern interpretation.  It's incredibly easy and perfect with this style of Sherry.

Shrimp & Grits - Creamy grits and succulent shrimp are the perfect foils for the fresh zip of light Sherry.  Serve it as a Sunday brunch surprise.

Seared Tuna - Fino/Manzanilla is an interesting pairing with sushi.  With ever-so-slightly cooked fish, it is amazing.  Sherry acts just like a squirt of citrus over a tuna steak - only you get to drink the Sherry.

Amontillado Sherry is richer than Fino.  Rather than tang, this Sherry offers flavors of smoke, wood, raisins and toasted nuts.  Dry Amontillados are ideal with dishes containing rich and savory flavors.  Off-dry Amontillado is a great match with recipes containing fruit or fruit-based sauces (e.g. fig sauce, dried apricots).  Some Amontillado amigos:

Pistachio-Crusted Beef - This dish has all the trappings for a fine match with either a dry or off-dry Amontillado.  It contains fruit juice, rich oyster sauce and roasted pistachios - all flavors that will pair excellently with this style of Sherry.

Pork with Figs & Salami - This recipe might very well be the perfect pairing for Amontillado (dry or off-dry).  Just try it.  I promise you'll love it.

Duck Breast with Mushroom Risotto - OK, I lied.  This might be the perfect recipe.  Perhaps you're noticing a theme?  Earthy & rich flavors combined with this style of Sherry are difficult to beat.  If you're not up for duck breast, try a glass of Sherry with mushroom risotto.  Or, for some seriously good Arborio rice (AKA risotto), replace a half cup of the liquid with Amontillado.  Scrump-diddly-umtious!

I must admit to having a love/hate relationship with Oloroso Sherry.  The reason being is that the most widely available expression of Oloroso is Cream Sherry.  Alas, a few Creams are painfully sweet (as in after one glass, you're riding a sugar-high, followed by a sugar-crash).  For super sweet Creams, try combatting the sugar with espresso.  Add a shot of Cream Sherry to a double-shot or Cafe Latte.  The result is caramely-coffee goodness.

If you have an eagle eye and are lucky enough to spot an Oloroso labeled, "dry," you are in for a treat (seek out Lustau 'Don Nunes,' Pedro Romero Dry Oloroso, or Barbadillo Dry Oloroso).  Dry Oloroso is akin to bittersweet chocolate.  It possesses an overall dry character with allusions to sweetness.  There are flavors of toasted hazelnut and caramel; along with bitter notes of chocolate and coffee.  Pair a dry Oloroso with rich, heavy-duty blue-veined cheeses.  One interesting thing I plan on trying with Oloroso is Sherry ice cream.

There you have it; appetizers, entrees and dessert - all paired to Sherry.  For even more Sherry-friendly recipe ideas, visit Ten Star Tapas.  Keep in mind Sherry is not your typical wine.  It won't wow you with fruity flavors.  On the other hand, it may very well seduce you with its nutty, wooded flavors. If you have yet to sample it, visit Part II of this series for a few recommendations.  Here's to a wonderful wine with rich history and unique production.  Here's to Sherry.

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» Beau on Sherry Part 3 from The Scotch Blog
Beau Jarvis writes an excellent blog called Basic Juice. Beau really knows his wine, and takes an unpretentious look at what is basically fermented grape juice - hence the name of his site. Beau is writing a 3-part series on sherry which is being concu... [Read More]

» Very Simply Sherry III: Sherry Comes to Dinner from
Future Sherry lovers of planet earth! You have been fortified with the knowledge of Sherry's history, how its produced and the grape varieties involved. Perhaps more importantly, you now understand the major styles of Sherry (read part II for a Sherr... [Read More]



urggg wine i can't stand the stuff give me beer any day, my gran does a fantastic steak and ale pie ....yummy

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Some mad food combination in the article but defiantly worth taking a look at. Great tips.

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Very delicious snacks. It made me hungry. I think I'll make seared tuna. Yummy

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Great information. I got lucky and found your site from a random Google search. Fortunately for me, this topic just happens to be something that I've been trying to find more info on for research purpose. Keep us the great and thanks a lot.

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I went to a sherry tasting last week and i have a new found appreciation for the drink.


Oh hell!!! You are just too cool man. I never knew that there could be something better to know about than from this piece of article. I shall have this forwarded to all my friends and even my dad, I am sure they too shall enjoy reading this piece.

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Nicely done. Sherry does not get enough publicity like this!

Stephanie Fox

Oh good they sound delicious. o.O
And that cheese. Hmm I wonder if you could buy some in the Uk.
Great post and lucky u. You made me hungry:D

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Very nice article.
Ain't Nothin' But a Dinner Party :)

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Manchego Cheese cheese is delicious, one of my favorites too!

top choice.

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I think im going to try the tuna with the sushi. I love tuna and pretty much eat it everyday. I would like to try it with something new.

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It is very good,thank you very much.If I can recieve your reply , and I will be very happy.

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Some funny combinations here pork salami with figs. I love figs but couldnt mix the two together.

get your ex back

Interesting; I have never tried sherry with tuna or shrimp. I would imagine it would be too rich and take the focus away from the food, but you have given something to think about for the weekend :)

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i love sherrrryyyyy

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it is awesome with snapper soup can't have it with out it

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mmm sherry so delicious in so many recipes

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Shrimp and grits. Now that sounds great and i think im getting hungry just thinking about it. Thanks for posting this.

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its just want of those flavors that nothing resembles exactly

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