Sherry 101 with Omar Allibhoy of Tapas Revolution

Describe Sherry in 3 words: Unique, Versatile, Excellent-value-for-money (sorry, was that 6 words you said?)

How did you first find Sherry, or how did Sherry first find you? Through food. Sherry is an incredibly good ingredient to cook with and in Spain we use it in lots of recipes. It was working in a restaurant as a young commis chef when I asked the Head Chef what was Sherry wine, why we were using it? He replied: “This is magic son, any dish you add it to, it just gets better”.  I will never forget.

Do you believe Sherry is more than just an aperitif wine? Absolutely! I have a very sweet tooth and when I am too full for dessert, there is always space to have it in it’s liquid form, sweet sherry.

How do you like to serve sherry at your restaurants? Chilled and with a smile

How would you convince somebody new to the drink, to try Sherry? As soon as you tell them where it comes from, how is made and why it’s different, who wouldn’t be enticed to try it?

Why do you think that sherry is a great drink for today’s food loving audience? We know everyone is now sharing plates. It is very difficult to go to a restaurant that doesn’t do tapas or small plates for sharing. Even in more traditional ‘starter and a main’ type restaurants people share them these days. Wines are not versatile, you will never have red wine with prawns or anchovies as it tastes very oxidised.  Matching traditional wines with food can only be done on a wine and dish basis but with sherry, because of it’s nature it’s a lot more versatile and can match lots of different flavour profiles.  As a tapas-eater that is why I enjoy it and I know a lot of people will be pleasantly surprised with this suggestion.

What are your top food and sherry pairing recommendations for Sherry?

Manzanilla & Fino - Clams with Fino and jamon
Amontillado -  Pan fried lamb cutlets flambe with Amontillado served with potatoes
Oloroso - Slow cooked Pork cheeks in Oloroso
PX -  A small glass of PX over a ball of Vanilla ice cream

What is the most surprising Sherry match you’ve come across? The one I just suggested above, the vanilla ice cream with a shot of PX, when I tried it for the first time I was so shocked by how well not worked.  It’s become a fixture in our menus.

What kind of cocktails can sherry be used in? All sorts, because there is such a variety of sherry’s quite simply. I always play around with them when changing cocktails in our menus and sometimes randomly we come up with some surprisingly good matches.  We always have sherry cocktails in our menus now, our latest the BASQUE COUNTRY FIZZ A twist on Patxaran - Sloe berry gin with a touch of aniseed, fig, apricot, sherry and bitter peach topped with crisp cava

Where’s your favourite sherry spot and why? To me there is no better place than at home with dinner I have to say, but if I had to pick a place it will have to be Jerez (which I did just a few months back) for a weekend and enjoy it there.

What was your most memorable sherry moment? When I went to visit a Bodega in Jerez and was shown how it is made and learnt why it is so unique. It wasn’t until then that I understood what made it so special.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of El Consejo Regulador.
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