A younger crowd are in the process of discovering something versatile to drink. A drink still shaking off the last few remnants of an (unfairly) tarnished reputation as being the choice of an older generation. One known to have fallen out of favour but now revitalised and back on the up…
Sounding familiar? This could be our juniper-based friend but Sherry’s recent revival is inevitably seeing parallels being drawn with the current second-coming of Gin.
Enjoying Sherry is all about context and occasion and with such a versatile spread of food-friendly styles the Sherry category is a Sommelier’s dream and hashtags such as #SherryRevival #SherryLover enjoy flurries of on-line activity amongst those already converted. Spanning bone dry to sticky sweet Sherry has a unique versatility that makes it so much more than an aperitif.
With reports from the likes of Majestic – a good source of reasonably-priced, high-quality Sherry – about surges in sales of their premium Sherries it’s tempting to get carried away and compare it to the absolute MEGA-boom that Gin is enjoying but the scale is quite different. Compared to Gin’s explosion in popularity it’s more of a slow burn, but if you’ve ever visited the Sherry Triangle you know Sherry isn’t something you can hurry along.
The real action here is the drier, more refreshing styles such as Fino, Amontillado and Oloroso which are leading Sherry out of an identity crisis and into something that bartenders have got more excited about.
So where are the new drinkers coming from? One stand-out newcomer brand, “Xeco”, shamelessly flirts with a more contemporary #SherryLover, with sleek bottles showing quirky illustrations of heroes and villains from Sherry’s illustrious export history. Initially leading with a crisp Fino and now a nutty, complex Amontillado their strategy to focus on the dry styles (the clue’s in the name). Eye-catching packaging aside though, what’s in the bottle is actually sourced from a well-established bodega with all the heritage and quality you would expect from something much dustier-looking.
The proof is in the pudding (and we don’t mean Sherry trifle) and the best way to experience different styles and serves of Sherry is to drink it. As the last revellers stumble home from the annual Andalusian festivities of the Feria del Caballo this month over in Sherry’s home of Jerez de la Frontera you can also find Sherry-based goings-on closer to home.
Those Jerezanos know how to party so there are lots of opportunities coming up. 2018 will see the 5th year of the ever-expanding International Sherry Week so from 8-14th October. This is your invitation to join the “World’s Largest Sherry Party” with a host of Sherry-themed events in your local Tapas joint or wine merchant.
If you can’t wait that long, there’s the Feria de Londres at London’s Southbank over Spring Bank Holiday (25-27th May 2018) followed by the Feria de Bristol at the Harbourside a week later (2-3rd June 2018). Sponsored by Tio Pepe, these two festivals promised to be “jam packed full of Spanish music, dancing, food and drink” so you can expect to experience as authentic a taste of all things properly Sherry as you can without getting on a plane.
In terms of serve, wise advice would be to enjoy Sherry from a normal white wine glass, rather than an old-fashioned Sherry “schooner” or possibly worse, a hipster jam-jar. Grab a bowl of almonds, or some cheese and get started on your Sherry journey. If you’re a foodie, or consider yourself a wine fan, then chances are you’ll be a Sherry fan.
There’s also fun to be had with Sherry cocktails. Think of almost any cocktail and someone, somewhere, has concocted one with a Sherry Twist. Manzanilla Mojito anyone? The easiest DIY cocktail in the world though has to be the classic Rebujito: Top up half a glass of Fino (or Manzanilla) with lemonade (7UP or Sprite are perfect), add a squeeze of lemon and a sprig of mint and you’re done. Perfect Sherry-based refreshment.
If the recent heatwave hasn’t had you reaching for a glass of chilled Fino yet, what are you waiting for?
So Sherry isn’t the new Gin. It’s simply the new Sherry.
This post was one of the final three entries chosen in our Emerging Drinks Writer Awards #WEDWA. Only the main title was changed a little. The article is as it was submitted, with only spelling corrected. Photos have not been included so as not to distract from the writing. Read the other pieces here and here!