Last week, thousands of Sherry-lovers and professionals around the world took advantage of the amazing opportunity to attend online and in-person events organised in creative collaborations between Sherry bodegas, restaurants, wine stores, bloggers, influencers and educators, during the 7th Sherry Week. Aficionados and newcomers alike tasted, paired, and discussed every type of this fortified wine from Southern Spain, many from the comfort of their own homes.
Sherry Week was more interactive and global than ever this year - the D.O. of Jerez-Xérès-Sherry and Manzanilla, under whose auspices the event is held, brought together wine and food-lovers from more than 30 countries, reaching past geographical movement restrictions to unite the wine community virtually. Yet again, the overwhelming popularity of gastronomic events – cooking and pairing - proved the versatility of this wine in matching every type of food.
Geographical and virtual reach
In total, 1,135 events were registered on sherryweek.wine, with hundreds more taking place in 32 countries, from Argentina to the USA, via Estonia, Malaysia and Peru, with the busiest agendas in Spain and the UK. This year, Sherry Week stimulated more international online, print, and TV media coverage of the event than ever before, with informative, in-depth ideas for tastings and pairings at home.
Social media was inundated with stories, posts, quizzes and live events, with over 20 million total potential impacts between Twitter and Instagram, and nearly 11,000 likes recorded on posts with the #Sherryweek hashtag (Source: Tweetbinder).
Just under 1,000 wine professionals, students and aficionados participated in the live activities, with more than 17,000 views of the video content since going live.
Highlights of the week
Sommelier Ferran Centelles, a collaborator of Jancis Robinson and Drink Director of ElBullí Foundation, took more than 200 participants on a tasting journey, focused on four different styles of Amontillado. Ferran’s aim was to examine in depth this style of Sherry, and to analyse the factors that make it such a diverse category.
Every weekday evening, the pop-up virtual bar opened for Sherry O’clock: Manzanilla Monday, Amontillado Tuesday, Palo Cortado Wednesday, Cream Thursday, Fino Friday, with three international specialists each day. One of these was Peter Sisseck, the highly respected Danish winemaker, who has invested in a bodega and vineyard in Jerez, and is now producing his own Sherry. Peter believes that Fino is the best white wine in Spain
An audience from Europe and America watched Beltrán Domecq, former Consejo Regulador President, read from his acclaimed book, Sherry Uncovered, at its virtual launch with Sarah Jane Evans on 2 November. Hearing Beltrán describe his childhood reminiscences of growing up in a Sherry family gave viewers an inside glimpse of life inside this rarefied world.
The Old v New Bottle-Aged Sherry virtual tasting on 3 November took the previously known ‘Twitter Tasting’ to a new level on Facebook Live, YouTube and Periscope/Twitter. Hosted by Ruben Luyton from SherryNotes, the conversation set off an interesting debate about the little-known topic of Sherries aged in the bottle, which is sure to arouse further interest, especially from wine collectors.
On 4 November, a series of five events took place across four continents (in five different time zones), watched by a captivated virtual audience, in addition to those lucky enough to attend in person, under one banner: the 24-Hour Sherry Pairing World Dinner Party in Melbourne, Shanghai, London, Jerez, and Washington DC. During each event, Sherry producers offered explanations about the chosen Sherries live from their bodegas in Spain.
First in Melbourne Australia, home town of Spain-based Sherry Week founder Chelsea Anthon together with importer Scott Wasley kicked off the party with an online webinar based around the Palomino grape. Next was Shanghai, hosted by Sherry Educator Monica Xhou, with 10 guests. Each dinner guest selected one local speciality, such as crispy pigeon or hairy crab, and then introduced its paired Sherry, explaining how the wine and food complemented each other. Promotions Director of D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, Carmen Aumesquet, joined live from Spain, and had the unenviable task of selecting the winner. She chose them all!
Then the action moved to Europe: in London, Camino dream team Nacho del Campo and founder Richard Biggs led an online cooking masterclass and Sherry tasting, with participants following along at home to braise their delicious Iberico lamb with pardina lentils (with ingredients provided by the restaurant), whilst tasting six different styles of Sherry. Not long after, in Spain, the Sherry Wine Council’s Gastronomy Ambassador Pepe Ferrer and his guests conducted a live tasting direct from Jerez, consisting of five sherries paired with 12 different artesanal products from Cadiz province including goat’s cheese, mojama (dried tuna) and sweet pastries.
To round off, in Washington D.C. (election night!), Estadio Restaurant treated guests at home to a guided cooking workshop for a three-course dinner paired with Sherry wines, led by Sherry Educator Chantal Tseng. This event was extremely well-received, with a high level interaction, and many participants were surprised to find how versatile Sherry is in pairing with food, and asking when it could be repeated.
Many Sherry bodegas stepped up to the mark in this year’s largely online Sherry Week, providing virtual tours to offer global participants a view of the extraordinary “cathedrals” in the south-western Andalucia. These vast spaces in the bodegas are where wines are aged and blended by experts steeped in the art of creating Sherries full of individuality and character.
Spanish-speaking sommeliers were privileged to attend an exclusive live online tasting on 5 November, hosted by the Consejo Regulador’s new President, César Saldaña, and Josep Roca of the celebrated restaurant El Celler de Can Roca. Together they gave a guided tasting of different Sherry wines, plus a highly technical and in-depth exploration of pairing and serving options, along with recommendations of how to introduce Sherry to younger people.
“Considering the unusual and rapidly changing circumstances, this year’s Sherry Week was a great success. We offered an impressive range of events for Sherry lovers around the world, using various online platforms, which saw enthusiastic participation. The unique situation gave rise to some interesting new initiatives which we will be pursuing further,” said César Saldaña President D.O. Jerez-Xeres-Sherry and Manzanilla.
Lastly, bearing in mind the uniquely challenging times facing the hospitality industry worldwide at this time, to support their favourite bartender, restaurant owner or sommelier, hundreds of Sherry aficionados tagged #MySherryAmigo in Social Media posts.
Sherry Week has recently won two major awards: Best Social Media Campaign of the Year in the Drinks Business Awards 2020, and the Gold Award for Best Digital and Social Media Campaign in the Drinks International Marketing Challenge.