Sherry used with food
With shellfish, smoked fish, anchovies, and other fishy appetisers, salted almonds and olives, I would serve well-chilled manzanilla. Fino, also served well-chilled, is perfect with smoked salmon, almonds, olives, cured ham, nutty cheese, such as Manchego, fish main courses, especially whole fish baked with garlic and olive oil and fino.
Stronger smoked fish, such as hot-smoked salmon and kippers, swordfish and dolphin fish (lampuki), cured and smoked meats, such as ham, venison and mutton, with or in clear soups, with salamis and sausages and similar dishes will happily take an amontillado, which, authentically, will be dry, and best served cool, as will be the oloroso which will perfectly partner roast lamb, fillet of beef, oxtail, slow-cooked belly pork and game dishes, especially roasted game birds.
Oloroso dulce, the sweeter version, really comes into its own at Christmas, with the cake, mince pies and puddings, but also try it with ginger cakes, nuts and crystallised fruit, and above all, blue cheeses. Try it also with foie gras.
The rich and raisiny Pedro Xim-enez, made from the eponymous grape not palomino, I like to serve with trifle and other creamy desserts, ice-creams and chocolate desserts.
In local restaurants in the sherry triangle it is poured over vanilla or raisin ice-cream and is truly ambrosial. Moscatel is the other dessert wine of the sherry triangle. As its name suggests, the flavours are those of sweet ripe grapes rather than raisins, and it is perfect with a compote of dried fruit, fruit tarts and fresh fruit salads.
Many of the local chefs use sherry in their dishes and to accompany them, including Fernando Cordoba in El Faro del Puerto in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Fernando Hermoso at Bigote in Sanlucar de Barrameda and Jose Valdespino Romero, who has recently opened the new Val de Pepe in Jerez, where one can share small plates of his exquisite food accompanied by the greatest wines of the region.
Another culinary ambassador for the wines of Jerez is Manuel Valencia, who cooked a meal especially for Tom and me on the very last night of his tiny restaurant, La Andana. Making use of both sherry and sherry vinegar, he served us a slice of Zamorano cheese, similar to a Manchego, brushed with extra virgin olive oil and a hint of oloroso vinegar. A glass of oloroso was the perfect accompaniment.
Similarly, cured loin of Iberian pork was dressed with extra virgin arbequina olive oil and amontillado vinegar, served with a glass of amontillado. Fino partnered a cornet of seafood, as it did a frito de pescado, an elegant version of a simple local dish.
Here the tiny fish were filletted, and the cuttlefish sliced into fine shreds before being fried to a light, golden crispness. Valencia’s philosophy is to use local recipes and ingredients and interpret them in his own style.
You know where you are when you taste his food, and his new restaurant, also called La Andana, on the edge of Jerez on the way to Sanlucar, is another reason to return to this delightful corner of Spain.
But until you can sample all these delights for yourself, chill a couple of bottles of fino, and serve them with some olives, smoked lampuki, toast-ed almonds and a bit of Manchego, followed by one or two of my favourite recipes. Buen proveche.