Right now, from where we’re sitting, and judging by the thermostat, Britain is having a summer. A proper one. You know the sort. Long days, warm evenings, mad rushes to the coast or out into the countryside because: a) we’re Brits; and b) and that’s what we do…
Another thing we do, of course, is eat outside. The merest hint of sun and garage forecourts everywhere sell out of charcoal, and blankets and hampers are pulled from the backs of cupboards. We’ll perhaps come back to the BBQ-ers in due course (although, in the meantime, chaps, do add a bottle of Fino to your shopping lists) but today, we’re going to focus on “Team Hamper”.
Or, indeed, Team Canvas Bag or Team
Sorry-it-was-all-a-bit-impromptu-can-I-have-a-carrier-please. Picnics these days don’t require great preparation or assembly because so many supermarkets carry inventive and tasty pre-prepared treats which are perfect for al fresco eating. And, yes, we know we sound a little zealous by now, but it’s genuinely remarkable just how many such dishes will match perfectly with Fino – or one of the Fino cocktails mentioned in that last post.
Just in case you haven’t seen that, or stumbled onto this page through a Google search about picnics or houmous or something, perhaps we should answer that obvious question again, just to make sure. So, yes, what is Fino sherry?
Er. It’s a sherry. And by that we mean it’s a fortified wine, a white Spanish wine, produced in Jerez, from palomino grapes. This Andalusian wine is then aged under a layer of yeasts, a process that gives Fino its structure, and develops the flavours and qualities that allow it to match so efficiently with so many foods. (And if you want to find out more, there’s LOADS of fascinating information and history at sherry.wine )
In short, Fino is one of the most adaptable, and accessible, drinks you’ll find. You need do nothing to it other than chill it. Or, if circumstances demand – such as you’re on a beach or on a blanket in a random field somewhere – adding some shop bought ice won’t raise any eyebrows. It’s wine, yes, but not as you know it…
In keeping with that snobbery-free attitude, we’ve taken a look at some of the country’s biggest supermarkets, and their ready-to-eat ranges, and put them up against a cold glass of Fino.
Let’s start, alphabetically and perhaps surprisingly, with Aldi. Like all the supermarkets we checked out, they have a great range of charcuterie and sliced cheeses and deli things that work very well with Fino’s nutty finish, zesty brightness, and gentle hint of salinity and savoury. But, with a nod to Spain (and a wink to Sicily), it was Aldi’s range of Marinated Olives that impressed. We put Fino through its paces and it positively sang against them all. “Lemon & Herb” was a given, of course, the classic Nocellaras ditto. But even against the extra salt and creaminess of Aldi’s Olives with Feta, and the punchy “Chilli and Garlic” pot on the shelves, Fino did its complementary thing.
Fino – as we celebrate elsewhere – works wonders with seafood, and cuts through the (delicious) oiliness with aplomb. On that basis, we’d look to Waitrose for their – we think – best-of-the-mainstream sushi range (particularly if you’re lucky enough to have a Waitrose with a sushi kitchen). Whether the straight sashimi – fatty tuna and Fino is a pairing to adore – or something less traditional / more funky, like a spicy, crunchy, Californian-style roll, Fino holds its own. Fino also does wonders alongside smoked salmon and, rather than tiptoe through the ecological minefields of farmed salmon, and whether the wild salmon is really wild, we’re going to point you to Waitrose for the Smoked Sockeye Salmon, from Alaska. Sure, there are air miles, but the fish is hugely sustainable and naturally wild. Plus the smoke, and the rich oils, sit well within Fino’s capabilities.
Marks & Spencer pretty much revolutionised supermarket lunches, and nostalgically we could suggest a sandwich, such as Coronation Chicken, where Fino’s multiple layers of flavour, hints of sweet and savoury and rich mouthfeel combine so neatly against the spice and creaminess of the filling. However, the M&S salads are a wonderfully diverse bunch that, frankly, could have been made with Fino in mind. We particularly like the Supergreen Salad in a Fruity Dressing – there’s a hint of ginger in that dressing that works particularly well with Fino – and the Mezze Houmous and Rainbow Veg Grain Bowl, where the nuttiness of chickpeas, tahini and the grains prove a brilliant foil to Fino’s understated similar flavours and salinity. Perhaps best of all though is the Bang Bang Noodle Slaw with Peanuts, Cabbage and Edamame, with a Peanut, Coconut and Chilli Dressing. Creaminess? Check. Nuttiness? Check. Spice? Check.
From Sainsbury’s, again, you’re not spoiled for choice, from charcuterie to snack shelf – Fino and Roasted, Salted Almonds is a no-brainer, frankly. But once we’d spotted the mini Melton Mowbray pies, we knew where this was heading. The fat of the pork, the traditional kick of white pepper, the richness of the hot water crust pastry… Fino cut through the fat and spice and took even this humble British picnic staple to new dimensions.
And finally to Morrisons. That’s not to say other supermarkets and regional chains have nothing to offer. They all will. Once you’ve discovered (or been reminded of) Fino’s flexibility, you can put a paired picnic lunch together anywhere (and Tesco’s very tapas-like Marinated Anchovies are really good). But, at the risk of sounding like a middle-class cliché, Morrison impressed us with their mini-quiche range. And Fino impressed us again with its ability to work with so many flavours. The salty, fatty, fresh tastes of the Ham Hock and Pea quiche. The umami and creamy salt of the Sunblushed Tomato and Feta. The savoury / sweet kick of Cheese and Caramelised Onion…
There are many reasons we think Fino should be part of your outdoor dining experiences this and future summers, and every deli and supermarket carries many of them. Whether you’re an experienced foodie who already knew, or a newcomer we’ve maybe managed to persuade to give it a go, find a little hamper space for a bottle of cold Fino. You won’t regret it.
Disclaimer: The brands mentioned in this blog post are not sponsored. Our content is purely editorial, and our recommendations are based solely on our honest opinions and experiences. We do not receive any monetary compensation or incentives from the mentioned brands. Our primary goal is to provide valuable information and insights to our readers. Always remember to make your own informed decisions based on your personal preferences and considerations.