Autumn for me is a favourite time of year, a couple of contributing factors are:
One, I've usually just returned from the coastal Sherry towns of Southern Spain or its capital Sevilla leaving me feeling inspired, rejuvenated and fully fueled with sherry and tapas!
Two, #International Sherry week begins during the month of October promoting and encouraging tasting, sharing and talking about these fantastic underrated wines. Granted we have to look beyond the assumption that these wines are solely for grandma to consume at Christmas. We have to start with an open mind and a guide to walk you through the different styles, and the best time to enjoy all what the wines have to offer.
Usually someones first experience of a fino or amontillado sherry is from a bottle that has been sitting in the back of a cupboard, or on a dusty shelf of a back bar! These wines need to be a little more understood to enjoy the full Sherry experience.
I will start with some ground rules when looking to explore Manzanilla or Fino Sherry .
Treat these wines in the same way you would treat a regular white wine, chill as a white wine and once opened keep in the fridge and consume within two to three days (ideal serving temperature between 6 and 8 degrees).
Remember if you can't manage a whole bottle search for half bottles, most good wine shops should have a selection of halves.
Serve in a regular white wine glass, ideally a tulip shape and never one of those old fashioned liqueur glasses!
Manzanilla wines are exclusive to bodegas in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. They tend to be a little lighter than fino with a hint of the sea, dry and fresh on the palate with some nice floral aromas such as chamomile and almonds. They are very fresh in the mouth with an ever so bitter aftertaste.
Fino ranges from a bright straw yellow to a pale gold in appearance, a herby, bready nose, again with almonds and delicate oak. Light, very dry on the palate with a wonderful nutty lingering finish.
Ideal as an aperitif and these wines sit nicely alongside the usual suspects of olives, nuts and Iberian ham. explore matching with pickled, fried and salty dishes such as boquerones, fried fish, vegetables such as marinated artichokes, and of course shellfish, crustacea and sashimi.
These particular wines have a low acetic acid content so they work exceptionally well with dishes with a marked acidity, try dishes that include a vinaigrette or a marinade, as well as the classic cold soups such as gazpacho and ajo blanco.