Sherry is a fortified wine produced exclusively in Jerez in Andalusia, Spain, and can be anything from bone dry to nectarous, and everything in between.
According to Peter Liem – wine authority and co-author of 'Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla' with Jesús Barquín – Sherry is a highly individual wine as it is not replicated convincingly in any other part of the world. The specific terroir and microclimate of the Jerez region - extreme summer heat countered by cool Atlantic winds - paired with Sherry production methods generates a wine of great complexity and depth.
As Liem remarks "in the Sherry region, one would rarely drink Sherry without food," and with the new wave of sherry bars and restaurants opening around London, there's no time like the present to embark on your own Sherry journey.
1. Fino and Manzanilla "behave essentially as white wines (which they are), and they're the most versatile of Sherries when it comes to food pairings" says Liem. Drinking well with nearly anything, dry Fino or Manzanilla are particularly well suited to "anything from the sea, cured things, fried things, spicy things."
2. Oloroso is far more "full-bodied and rich, and functions more like a red wine" and works exceptionally well when pairing with grilled meats, game or hearty stews.
3. Amontillado and Palo Cortado - the more medium-bodied sherries - Liem recommends evaluating the style of each wine individually as the flavours can vary massively depending on biological or oxidative aging. He comments that "you might find an Amontillado that's terrific with roast duck, for example, while another can be an illuminating pairing with oily fish such as mackerel or sardines." It's important to remember that, as with any wine, "weight and texture are as important as flavour when it comes to pairing with food."