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Sharing Sherry - A Somm's Standpoint

Marek Przyborek - Assistant Head Sommelier, Northcote, Lancashire, UK

How does Sherry inspire you when pairing with food?

Sherry, whether sweet or dry, always brings very prominent and intense flavors. Dry styles, especially Palo Cortado or Oloroso are great to highlight meaty aromas within dishes and sherries also work exceptionally well with many wine “unfriendly” types of food. For example marrying meat-based runny soups typical in Polish cuisine with a glass of dry Sherry creates great pairings.

On the other hand sweet Sherries such as Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel work genuinely well with rich dark chocolate-based desserts. A glass of oily, rich Sherry with melting bitter chocolate – that can really inspire!

Of course we cannot forget about the dishes from Andalucía. The tradition of matching local products with local wines formed over centuries will always be great inspiration to sommeliers. 

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

Coming up with great Sherry and food pairings is quite easy, I have in mind two combinations, absolutely different and absolutely great.

Oloroso Lustau Don Nuño – with Scotch Broth.

The earthy, meaty taste of broth is very difficult to pair with wine, but the oxidative style of Oloroso works perfectly. Higher alcohol complements the temperature of the dish, together with the spicy and oaky oxidative body, which makes the broth deeper in taste, highlighting the flavours of meat and root vegetables.

Pedro Ximenez Bodegas Hidalgo Triana – with Chocolate and coffee cake.

Dark and viscous Pedro Ximenez is a beautiful combination with the dark chocolate and bitterness of coffee. It adds warmth and leaves a long-lasting luscious aftertaste.

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

Discovering the world of old, long-aged Sherries, VOR or VORS, can provide great experiences as a stand-alone drink or even with food matching, especially with lamb based dishes or lighter game with strong umami and earthy flavours. A glass of old Palo Cortado and a cigar is also a good recipe for success!

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

Sherry has got a reputation as a sweet wine. Therefore I would promote more of the dryer styles, such as Amontillado which works great with tapas-style bar snacks and as an aperitif.

Particularly for young people a good way to start the adventure with Sherry could be the creation of Sherry-based cocktails, for example combining Sherry with vermouth and bitters or citrus liqueurs. Positive curiosity can lead people who start with Sherry-based cocktails to then try Sherry on its own.

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

The most important components of the aging process which are visible in wines are the environment and time. The environment -oak barrels, stainless steel vats, aging under flor – will all add certain set of the aromas to the wine. Wine will evolve in a completely different way in wood, with full access to oxygen or under the flor.

Time is the factor that moderates the intensity of the aging elements. Wines that undergo longer aging will gain more character of the environment. Those spending longer time in barrel will loose some of the freshness and fruitiness of younger wine in favor of gaining more oily textures. Naturally if exposed to air they would gain more oxidative character. 

What makes Sherry special for a Somm?

Sherry as a fortified wine made in several styles is an interesting wine to try and offers a wide field for experiments with food and wine matching. Due to its characteristics Sherry works perfectly with some dishes that would not be easily paired with other types of wine.

It is possible to start a restaurant experience with a glass of dry Fino as an aperitif, continue with some of courses at the table sipping Amontillado, and finish with Moscatel Vino Dulce Natural. It’s not possible with any other fortified wines!

It’s a very undiscovered wine – thanks to sharing the knowledge and passion of sommeliers it can bring great amount of pleasure and creates unforgettable experiences for the guests.

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Sherry Wines UK
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Sherry Wines UK @SherryWinesUK
06 April 2016
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