How did you first find Sherry, or how did Sherry first find you?
I first discovered Sherry when I came to the UK in 1998, I had never tried it before and had certainly not come across it in Italy. Obviously it tasted peculiar to me at first, as it was like nothing else I had ever tasted, I was surprised at its unusual flavours and it made me want to learn more about it as a wine. The more I learnt, the more I appreciated it and understood its flexibility in how it pairs with food.
How does Sherry inspire you when pairing with food?
I was really inspired by the Copa Jerez when I heard of Heston Blumenthal and Jancis Robinson being involved as judges, I realised that Sherry must be a serious wine! It encouraged me to experiment pairing different sherries with food, not just presenting it as a traditional choice of drink for an aperitif. Working with Sherry for over ten years in combination with food I have realised what a versatile wine it is and that the more you taste it the better it gets.
What are the greatest food & Sherry pairings you’ve discovered?
It’s easy to pair sweet sherries with desserts and always great to take a first step by pairing Manzanilla or Fino with anchovies, but it really comes into its own when pairing Amontillado or Oloroso with Pork or stewed beef dishes.
What is the most surprising Sherry match you’ve come across?
Palo Cortado is the King of sherries. The most revealing of pairings for me is matching a palo cortado with veal or game dishes. At La Chappelle we have an assiette of Veal, which offers three different flavours; belly, sweetbread and slow cooked. Palo cortado accompanies these intense flavours exceptionally well. If I were to pair a sherry with an Italisn dish, Palo Cortado would also work well with Ossobuco alla Milanese. slow cooked shank of beef and the creamy risotto texture.
What makes Sherry special for a Somm?
It is special in so many ways, it can be used where it is sometimes difficult to pair another type of wine and can give really concentrated experiences when you get the pairing right. It can challenge any strong flavor, it gives something extra. I like to say it’s like the Joker in the pack, you can play it with skill and create a great impact!
What are the key components in the ageing process that are reflected in the wines?
The terroir of the sherry triangle and the skills of the winemakers are just as evident in Sherry as in any other bottle of wine. This corner of Andalucia provides a unique combination of factors which produce unique tasting wines. Whether you are tasting one of the widely commercially produced sherries or smaller limited releases they are all different and individuality matters.
How would you convince somebody new to the drink, to try Sherry?
You can hook people in with their understanding of sweet sherries and then work your way backwards to introduce them to others, offering a combination with salted almonds or olives to get a foot in the door. But to open that door wide and captivate people it is great to pair a whole menu with sherry so that people can really appreciate the breadth of flavour. In this way people are offered an ‘experience’ and subsequently they may then request the different sherries by the glass or they are inspired to try a similar pairing when they next visit a Spanish restaurant. It is very special for a Sommelier to be able to create a legacy when people try something and become passionate.
18 May 2016