Get reacquainted with Sherry
Although May 26 marks World Sherry Day, Sherry remains one of the most misunderstood and under-valued fine-quality wines.
It is too often treated like a spirit and served at room temperature in tiny glasses from bottles first opened when Ireland was still winning the Eurovision Song Contest annually. Result: warm, stale wine.
Fino and Manzanilla are Sherry's palest white and lightest in alcohol at 15pc. Arguably the most versatile food wines in the world, they are always bone dry with an Atlantic saltiness and grilled-almond nuttiness. As with Champagne, Fino and Manzanilla are best served very well-chilled and enjoyed immediately after opening.
Amontillado is an aged Fino in which the wine develops a rich hazelnut character. With alcohol around 18pc, the wines are mostly dry. Some may be 'medium' by blending with a little sweet wine made from the intensely luscious Pedro Ximenez (PX) grapes grown in neighbouring Montilla-Moriles; excellent with hard cheeses.
Oloroso is a richer and fuller-bodied style with a walnut dryness enriched by a date and fig fruit character. Highest in alcohol, around 20pc, some are 'dulce' or 'cream', sweetened with PX wine. These wines keep fresh for several weeks when opened.
1) OLOROSO EAST INDIA SOLERA Emilio Lustau, 20pc, D.O. Jerez, Spain
Exotic dried orange peel and treacle toffee bouquet. Alcohol smothered in medium-sweet, delicious, creamy treacle unctuousness, coating rich brazil-nut flavours and a coffee-cake finish.
50cl bottle €19.99 at Bradley's, North Main Street, Cork; Cases Wine Warehouse, Galway, and Rua Deli, Castlebar. In Dublin: The Corkscrew, Chatham Street, and Mitchell & Son, Glasthule and IFSC. See mitchellandson.com
2) manzanilla Williams & Humbert, 15pc, D.O. Jerez, Spain
Delicate chalky aroma. Bone dry, light and elegant. Refreshing and sea-spray bracing with an almond nutty finish. Chill and serve with grilled prawns wrapped in smoked streaky rashers.
€11.99 at Marks & Spencer nationwide
3) manzanilla 'la gitana' Bodegas Hidalgo, 15pc, D.O. Jerez, Spain
Delicate citrus aromas and intense salty almond and dillisk seaweedy flavours hide the alcohol. Chill and enjoy with a platter of olives, anchovies and artichoke hearts.
€15.99-€17.99 at La Touche, Greystones; Wicklow Wine Company, Wicklow; The Black Pig and Donnybrook Fair, Donnybrook; On the Grapevine, Dalkey, and Corkscrew, Chatham Street, Dublin 2
4) fino 'inocente' single vineyard Valdespino, 15pc, D.O. Jerez, Spain
Subtle cottage cheese aroma but a powerful Atlantic roller-coaster of salty, tangy flavours of almonds and cashew nuts crashes on the tastebuds.
Serve well-chilled accompanied by asparagus spears tossed in melted butter.
37.5cl bottle €11.99 at Manning's Emporium, Ballylicky. In Dublin: Worldwide Wines; Donnybrook Fair, Dublin 4, and thewineshop.ie
5) dry old amontillado Emilio Lustau, 18.5pc, D.O. Jerez, Spain
Amber colour and deliciously dry with complex aromas and flavours of hazelnuts and a honeyed caramel note.
37.5cl bottle €11.99 at Marks & Spencer nationwide
6) antique oloroso Fernando de Castilla, 20pc, D.O. Jerez, Spain
Copper coloured. Spirity bouquet and a walnut character. Oily smooth texture from decades of ageing gracefully in cask. Very dry with a savoury meaty richness lifted with a tangerine tang and highlighted by a salty finish.
50cl bottle €36 at Searson's, Monkstown, Co Dublin
7) pedro ximenez ananda 2011 17pc, D.O. Montilla-Moriles, Spain
Deep golden with treacle-pudding bouquet. Very smooth and lusciously honeyed. Intense treacle-pudding flavours with a lively freshness.
37.5cl bottle €15.75-€16.50 at O'Leary's Food Store, Cootehill. In Dublin: The Black Pig, Donnybrook; Power & Smullen, Lucan, and quintessentialwines.ie