Sherry wine: Four bottles to savour with savoury food

I was once told if you like green olives, soy sauce and Marmite, you will enjoy sherry

Sherry is non-vintage and has been fortified, or had grape brandy added.

Sherry is non-vintage and has been fortified, or had grape brandy added.

 

I was amazed, and a little ashamed, to see that I hadn’t included a sherry in my column here for more than a year; this is after all, one of my favourite drinks and one of the best value wines of all. I am rarely without a bottle of some kind on the go.

During lockdowns, on warm days, I would recreate my personal Andalucía in the back garden. It involved a few slices of jamón Ibérico, some freshly toasted salted almonds, a scattering of green olives and a little Manchego or other cheese on a plate. I would nibble happily away while sipping a well-chilled glass of fino sherry. I once even found the time to make some dangerously good creamy rich croquetas. Fino, or its lighter version Manzanilla, is great with all sorts of seafood too.

Once the weather gets colder, I switch to Amontillado, essentially a more full-bodied, richer, aged fino. I usually chill it lightly and drink a glass while cooking, with whatever nibbles are to hand. It goes with all of the above as well as cold meats, pâtés, albondigas (meatballs in tomato sauce), even kidneys sautéed in sherry. 

There are people who drink Oloroso at dinner, usually with robust red meats, but I tend to drink it (and often Amontillado or Palo Cortado) after dinner, with nuts and firm, strong or blue cheeses. 

Lastly, if you have a sweet tooth, an Andalusian alcoholic alternative to affogato is to pour a glass of PX, an intensely sweet, raisined dark sherry, over a bowl of vanilla ice-cream. And then pour another glass to drink with it. 

I won’t go into the complexities of sherry production here. Just remember that Fino and Manzanilla sherry is lighter in colour, alcohol (about 15 per cent ABV) and flavour. Amontillado is richer, darker and more powerful. Oloroso is the most full-bodied and powerful of all. Almost all of these are dry wines to be savoured with savoury foods. 

Sherry is non-vintage and has been fortified or had grape brandy added. It will have been aged for extended periods before being blended. Some go-ahead producers have started producing unfortified wines, sometimes even ageing them in used sherry casks. These are fascinating wines, but I still adore the umami tang of a real sherry. I was once told that if you like foods such as green olives, soy sauce, anchovies and Marmite, you will enjoy sherry. Otherwise, one of life’s great pleasures may not be for you. 

Lustau sherries, stocked by Mitchell & Son are excellent, as are names such as Hidalgo (jnwine.com) and La Guita (celticwhiskeyshop.com) and Barbadillo (Donnybrook Fair). Tio Pepe is the most widely available sherry of all and usually very good, as are some of the Marks & Spencer sherries. 

Inocente Fino, Valdespino
15%, rrp €14.99 (37.5cl)
A relatively full-bodied single vineyard fino with bracing green olives, almonds and green apple fruits, and a lip-smacking long dry finish. Serve chilled with all kinds of seafood, calamari, grilled or smoked mackerel.
From: Widely available from independent wine shops including A Taste of Spain, D1; 64 wine, Glasthule,64wine.ie; Alain & Christine’s, Kenmare, acwine.ie; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; The Corkscrew, D2, thecorkscrew.ie; 1601 Off-licence, Kinsale; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth; elywinebar.ie; Manning’s Emporium, Bantry, manningsemporium.ie; Thomas Woodberrys, Galway, woodberrys.ie; Worldwide Wines, Waterford, worldwidewines.ie.

Del Duque, Amontillado Muy Viejo, Gonzalez Byass
21.5% ABV, €23 per half-bottle
 Cedarwood and polished mahogany, walnuts and hazelnuts, subtle citrus and soft fruits; the ultimate seasonal fireside treat with firm cheeses and nuts. 
From: 64 wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie; Bradleys Off-licence, Cork, bradleysofflicence.ie; Selected O’Briens, Obrienswine.ie; Field’s SuperValu, Skibereen, fieldsofskibereen.iewinesoftheworld.ie

Callejuela Amontillado NV
18% ABV, €33
 A magnificent sherry. Light, fresh and tangy with grilled almonds and hazelnuts with a bone-dry finish. Enjoy lightly chilled with all manner of tapas and savoury nibbles. 
FromBarrow Market, D4, barrowmarket.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; Baggot Street Wines, D4, baggotstreetwines.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Clontarf Wines, D3, clontarfwines.ie; Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie; The Wicklow Wine Co, Wicklow, wicklowwineco.ie; A Taste of Spain, D1; siyps.com; La Touche, Greystones, latouchewines4u.ie; Redmonds, D6; Redmonds.ie.

Fernando de Castillo Antique Amontillado NV
19%AB V, €39.95 for a 50cl bottle
Not cheap, but worth every last cent. This is a wonderful, spectacular wine, full of intense complex flavours, including grilled nuts, citrus peel, old mahogany, and dried fruits. Drink solo, with salami, salchichón or pâté with crackers. 
From: 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; Supervalu Bray & Blackrock; Gibney’s, Malahide, gibneys.com; Searsons, Monkstown, searsons.com

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.