Letting Sherry Out of The Closet

sherryIf you have a friend named Sherry, I’m not talking about her. I’m talking about the fortified wine from Jerez, Spain.

Sherry isn’t something I think about much in my drinking life, but I bumped into it when a friend sent me a very cool article from the Wall Street Journal online. You can read the whole article for yourself, or get the Reader’s Digest version here.

The gist of the article is really very simple:

a – While we all have a vague idea that Sherry is a classy beverage that the “cultured” folk enjoy, 99% of the drinking public doesn’t think they like it, even though they’ve never tried it.

b – The average (wine) bar go-er has only a foggy idea of what it is, and according to the WSJ article, can’t even be persuaded to drink it for free!

Apparently, in 21st century America, only wine geeks — i.e. Frazier and his brother and those of us who work in the business — actually buy it. And the article explains why: there is a dizzying array of styles and sweetness levels, and the only Sherry that’s been popularized is “sticky sweet,” i.e. fit only for your Great Aunt Ethel. The average wine shopper isn’t about to take the time to ferret out the kind of Sherry he/she might actually enjoy, so they walk right past the Sherry section and head for the Ports.

I’m going to change all that. I’m going to give you the Abridged Version of the Sherry Buyer’s Guide. There will be only three wines in it, and you should be able to pick the one you’d like without closing your eyes and stabbing a blind finger. Here goes.

1 – Buy anything made by Emilio Lustau, a Spanish company that’s been making Sherry for centuries.

2 – If you like a nutty and dry wine that you can enjoy before dinner, try anything labeled Amontillado. I like the Lustau Dry Amontillado Los Arcos. It has a slightly rich mouth-feel combined with a crisp, dry, nutty flavor. It’s a great aperitif wine that’ll perk up your tastebuds for whatever you’re eating later.

3 – If you have a recipe that calls for Sherry, use the same thing. Lustau Amontillado should be your go-to Dry Sherry.

4 – If you want to sip on something sweet in the evening, drink Lustua Deluxe Capataz Creme Sherry. In Sherry-speak, Creme = Sweet, but this one isn’t sickly sweet. Still too much for me, though.

5 – If you want to feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven, try Lustau Solera 1927. This is a blend of Sherries made in the traditional (but confusing) manner, meaning that it contains Sherry from almost every vintage dating back to 1927. Don’t try to figure it out: just take my word for it. This thing tastes like a 20-year-old Tawny Port — rich, dark, deep, caramel-y an elegant.

It’s as simple as that! So take yourself off to your favorite wine merchant and  try one of these three. And let me know what you think. Maybe we’ll prove the WSJ wrong!  Cheers…

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