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Most wine enthusiasts think of sherry as an aperitif, or a drink for in-between meals. Seldom will someone consider a sweet sherry with dessert, or in place of a dessert.

Actually, sherry is a versatile wine or a category of wines and can complement a variety of foods.

It is important to know that sherry can be bone dry (manzanilla or fino), or very sweet px (Pedro Ximenez). Many styles are in-between the two extremes.

     First things first. All sherry starts life as bone dry, and then winemakers decide how to proceed according to market demand.

     Spaniards drink dry sherry (fino) almost exclusively, and with tapas a k a magic mouthfuls, English on the other hand like sweet or very sweet sherries, as do Latin Americans. Northern Europeans (Dutch, Belgians and Germans prefer olorosos.

     Fino and manzanilla sherries are dry.

     Amontillados are off dry; olorosos, medium sweet; pale cream and cream very sweet; and PX extremely sweet.

     Manzanilla sherries, a specialty of the town Sanlucar de Barrameda at the confluence of the Guadalquivir River, go well with marinated scallops on Japanese vinegared – rice wrapped in nori (seaweed); lightly salted and roasted almonds; potato salad; and sushi.

     Fino sherries have been traditionally paired with beef consommés but goat cheese stuffed ripe tomato wedges seem to be a more satisfying match. You can enjoy chilled fino sherries as an aperitif, or with tapas including roasted root vegetables and sashimi. There is no end to successful matches here.

     Amontillado, means in the style of Montilla, the next province north-east of Andalusia where this particular sherry style originates, and means the wine has one or more degrees alcohol. These full bodied sherries call for more flavourful dishes like pan-seared chicken satay with fresh thyme and red currant jus, or grilled chicken breast with a piquant mayonnaise. Blue cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton or Cabrales are excellent with amontillado sherries, particularly the brand NPU (Ne Plus Ultra) from Sanchez Romate, a medium sized quality oriented sherry shipper.

     Oloroso sherries by definition are full-bodied and best matched with duxelles stuffed filet of beef, beef teriyaki, thick soups, or puff pastry wrapped filet mignons stuffed with goose liver pate.

     Off-dry sherries are excellent matches with smoked salmon stuffed pyhlo pastry purses and honey mustard sauce/ You can invent your own specialty of interested in cooking and inventing new, exciting food and wine combinations.

     Pale cream sherries represent specialities and only few houses produce them. Croft’s pale cream sherry, in a recent tasting, went extremely well with arugula crumbled Gorgonzola, fresh pear slices, toasted pine nuts and raspberry vinaigrette.  You can always replace Gorgonzola with Cabrales, a superb Spanish blue cheese, or Roquefort, Stilton or Danish blue.

     Cream sherries like Harvey’s Bristol Cream, are by definition sweet, and meant for desserts. Espresso-infused custard in chocolate shell, cream sherry parfait, or a compote of dried fruits are good matches. You can try dried apricots, apples , pears, figs and dates with cream sherries and see for yourself how well they complement one another.

     PX, is an extremely sweet, raisiny-tasting sherry requiring appropriate accompaniments. Dark chocolate wafers, or dried fruits, or biscotti dipped in the wine go well with this type of sherry.

     Feel free to experiment and enjoy the excitement of new flavour combinations.

     Regardless of what you do, drink fino, manzanilla and amontillado sherries cool; oloroso, medium at 65 F (14C); and sweet at ^8 F (16 C).
     When you open a bottle of sherry, try to consume it within a week, dry sherries in two days.
Here is a menu exclusively paired with sherry:

Scallops with herbed butter
Cured sardine on smoked aubergine (eggplant)
Chilled gazpacho soup

Fino Jarana, Lustau

Goat’s cheese soufflé infused with caramelised Spanish onion and honey

Palo Cortado Almacenista Vides Lustau

Jumbo quail braised in chocolate sauce, Shallots on grilled bread
Romaine lettuce avocado and walnut salad vinaigrette

Oloroso Don Nuno Lustau

Cheese platter
Mahon Grande and Manchego with honey pear

Moscatel Centenary Celebration release Lustau

Arroz con leche tart with fresh orange salad

Pedro Ximenez Centenary Celebration Release Lustau

Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu

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