Sherry Wine News

Ian Adams on Sharing Sherry - A Somm's Standpoint

Ian Adams - Winner of the 2015 Copa Jerez International Competition and Assistant General Manager at 15 Romolo - San Francisco, California

How did you first find Sherry, or how did Sherry first find you?

I became fascinated by fortified and aromatized wines shortly after moving back to San Francisco in 2010. As a cocktail guy, this began with vermouth but quickly expanded to vintage Port and Madeira, Chinato, quinquina, and the like. Sherry came late to this party, but I was instantly hooked by the bitterness and expressive aromatics of old Oloroso and the briny autolytic character and freshness of Fino and Manzanilla. Much like the first time I tasted Champagne, it was the flavor that captured my attention, but the history of the region that really hooked me.

How does Sherry inspire you when pairing with food?

One word: vegetables! Gone are the days of masking the flavor of vegetables by seasoning them like meat and cooking them until sweet to make them more wine-friendly. Now vegetables, even the really tough ones like asparagus, artichokes, and fennel can serve to flavor the meat, rather than the other way around.

What are the greatest food & Sherry pairings you’ve discovered?

  1. Manzanilla en Rama with french fries and ketchup.
  2. Fino from el Puerto de Santa Maria with blistered padron or shishito peppers and sea salt.
  3. Very old Oloroso Dulce (VORS) and nearly everything from Argentine-style grilled steak with chimichurri to chocolate lava cake from The Cheesecake Factory.

What is the most surprising Sherry match you’ve come across?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Manzanilla en Rama and french fries with ketchup. This is the ultimate Sherry comfort food pairing. In Andalusia, potato chips are a ubiquitous accompaniment to nearly every dish. They are so close to nailing it and they have no idea.

What makes Sherry special for a Somm?

A somm has two jobs: (1) presenting informed, complimentary flavors and (2) telling cool stories to sell wine (because no one at the table cares about the relative concentration of acetaldehyde in Barolo vs. Brunello). Sherry presents a wealth potential stories to draw from, whether you're discussing 3000 years of continuous wine production in a region conquered and reconquered by nearly every significant church or empire in European history or the new generation of women taking over generations-old family wineries.

How would you convince somebody new to the drink to try Sherry?

Two steps: (1) Tell them a cool story, and (2) serve them salty food like cheeses, charcuterie, croquetas, fried pickles if you happen to be enjoying some Sherry at Hooters, etc.

What are the key components in the aging process that are reflected in the wines?

With Fino and Manzanilla, the key is autolysis. The resulting creamy mouthfeel and exaggerated aromas of fresh baked bread are rivaled only by great quality Champagne.
As for Oloroso, the key is concentration. As the wine ages and the water content evaporates, the aromatics and flavors explode in intensity and the acid content can go through the roof, making for extremely fun pairing potential.

Thanks, Ian! 

Next time you're in San Francisco, be sure to stop by 15 Romolo to learn more about these wines from a global award-winning Sherry sommelier.

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Sherry Wines U.S.
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Sherry Wines U.S. @SherryWinesUS
27 July 2016
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