Sherry Wines of all kinds pair fantastically with food, and not just appetisers like jamon, almonds, cheese and anchovies but sit down, dinner table food as well. It has taken me a long long time and a lot of calories to whittle down the list but here are my top five sherry wine and proper food pairings in, as is traditional, reverse order.
5. Fifth place goes to amontillado and asparagus. Sherry wines stand up to these flavourful greens or, indeed, other chlorophyll bombs like artichokes and brussels sprouts (but not all at the same time)like no other wine, and although my personal favourite would be a lighter amontillado with fresh, bang in season asparagus, a slightly older, heavier amontillado would also go a bomb with the traditional post-Christmas brussels sprouts and bacon fry up.
4. Number four would be manzanilla with fish and chips. Purists might insist on the salty, herby fried fish you get down in Andalucia but the salinity and low acidity of the manzanilla work perfectly with fish and chips (which, lets be honest, you can also get plenty of in Andalucia). The manzanilla not only stands up for itself, but the fragrance and salty, herbal flavours of the manzanilla are as perfect with the fish and chips as salt and vinegar themselves.
3. The bronze medal goes to fino with barbecued sardines. Here I am talking “espetos” – fresh sardines cleaned, skewered and barbecued over open fires and served with a touch of salt and lemon. The pairing is just about perfect. The sardines are oily, salty and smoky and the salty zing of the fino and bready, nutty citric flavours of the fino match beautifully.
2. The runner up pairing (or, as the Spanish would have it "subcampeón") would be fino with steak tartare. Of course it will depend on the quality of your tartare, but if it is anywhere near to the right balance the fino will spice up the palate and bring the flavours of the tartare alive in every direction. The tartare will seem spicier, nuttier, meatier, and depending on your tartare you may even get savoury mushroom or truffle flavours from the combination. In return, the fino seems to expand in complementary direction to show more herbs, citrus and alcohol, filling the gaps to make a fantastic whole. A really superb pairing.
1. The top number one, though, would be oloroso with callos a la madrilena, Madrid’s typical offal stew. Chunks of a cow’s stomach, cheek and feet accompanied by chorizo sausage and morcilla blood pudding, cooked very slowly with paprika, tomato, spices and garlic so that the fat and gelatin of the tripe and bits and pieces combine with the other flavours to make one of the most hedonistic of stews, and the spice of the paprika lifts it onto another level. The pairing with oloroso, though, takes it onto another planet altogether: the oloroso lifts the callos, the callos lift the oloroso. The acidic, alcoholic heat of the wine cuts through the ultra-rich, sticky, fatty stew, and the fine, dry flavours are a perfect foil to the peppery, tomato rich goo. In fact the acidity and alcohol of the oloroso even accentuate that paprika spice, giving the callos an extra squeeze of magic.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of El Consejo Regulador.
27 November 2015