Are we classing sherry as tapas?
Although apocryphally it is sherry that started the whole tapas thing. And I want to talk about it because sherry returned to my life for the first time since my underage drinking/stealing from parents days at the fag end of last summer.
Here’s a revelation for you: it’s actually fucking awesome.
But it’s only awesome if you know the rules.
And it is these rules that I’m going to close out the Spanish Picnic Series with.
The Rules of Sherry
1. It’s called Jerez
Firstly you need to think of sherry as a varietal, just like the Andalucians do. But that’s because it is a wine. Made from the Jerez grape. Your grandmother was wrong to shelve it beside the port and only serve it when the vicar came around.
2. Keep it fresh
And here’s the biggest rule I learned recently: it only lasts as long as white wine. Use it within two days or it goes flat and stale.
“Cooking sherry”, then, is as oxymoronic as “cooking wine”. We’ve been told for thirty years that you should only ever cook with wine that you would actually drink.
Well, now I’m telling you the same thing with sherry.
3. Stay dry
Start with dry sherry. Cream sherry is more readily available in Anglo lands because it is more commonly used in cooking. But it’s actually a blend.
So seeing as we are now applying the rules of wine to sherry, never buy cream sherry again.
Start with either fino or manzanilla. I guarantee you’ll be able to find them at your local wine merchant. They’re the ones the Spanish most commonly drink. It’s just I’m willing to bet you haven’t looked before.
These are both the driest, by the way.
4. Start with training wheels
When all the pieces work in harmony, you’ll see that a few glasses of sherry is absolute bliss.
So wait for a hot, sunny day (the kind where you can have a picnic in your yard) and serve the dry sherry ice cold and straight from the fridge. If it’s new to you then drop a few ice cubes in to balance out the dryness.
Or do what we did because I (unsuccessfully) didn’t want to get too drunk: make a spritzer of two parts sherry, one part fizzy water poured over ice.
5. Get in before the hipsters
In Britain at least, sherry is still insanely cheap and readily available. Seriously, the stuff going for £5.99 in the supermarket is the Andalucian equivalent of Châteauneuf du Pape.
This won’t last. The hipsters have discovered it. Sherry will officially become the drink this Summer. It’s even spawning dedicated restaurants in London. (The one near me is fantastic if you’re coming to London.)
And so concludes the Spanish Picnic Series. Am I really so insane as to pre-load a whole week’s worth of recipes into the blog just so I can tell you to drink sherry?
Yes. Yes, I am. Have we even met before?