Monday, 24 September 2012

oh sherry...

as per my previous entry, i've started this blog on my "lunch break" and will likely finish it during my "siesta." nothing too fancy for lunch today; toast with garden-fresh tomato, beets, and beet greens tossed in a balsamic-olive oil dressing, and an empanada de pino with chimichurri (everything, including the toast, is of course homemade). to go with lunch, naturally, is a glass of my favourite afternoon sipper: sherry.
higher in alcohol with a hands-on, time-tried aging system should place sherry among the best wines. unfortunately, such is not the case these days. the only connection most people may have to sherry is the sweetened, creamy style that was kept on the shelf and only served when grandmother came to the house at christmas (or worse, just used for cooking).  fortunately, i consider myself lucky to have "discovered" the joys of sherry and it is now a part of my regular drinking routine.
oddly, my first modern-day encounter with sherry was in buenos aires (hence the empanada-pairing). waking at noon from a big night out, we went to a local restaurant for "breakfast" just when government workers were released for their 4-hour lunch. before we even had the chance to order a much needed cappuccino, two glasses of fino sherry appeared at the table; a part of the meal as assumed as bread and water. not exactly a sunday morning caeser, but the sherry-hair of the dog worked well, but it took a few more years before it became a routine.
flash-forward to 2009 and a visit to jerez de la frontera: the heart of sherry. here, in the spring sunshine nibbling on tapas with a fino or in the evenings nibbling on tapas with an oloroso, sherry suddenly made sense. as in buenos aires, sherry is as much a great companion to a meal as any table wine. the sweet, granny-style sherries are only a small fragment of the more common and delicate dry sherries. without getting into further detail about the winemaking process, here is a simple way to remember your styles of sherry:
fino (FEE-no) = pale lemon in colour with a green olive/almond-like flavour
amontillado (ah-mon-tee-YA-doh) = pale amber in colour with a hazelnut-like flavour
oloroso (oh-loh-ROH-soh) = deeper amber in colour with a toasted walnut-like flavour
such has been the impact of sherry in my life that a near-daily snack for me is what i call my "sherry-mix"; a nutty mix of almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts with some yogurt covered raisins (they represent sweet sherries). which reminds me: now that lunch is finished, it is siesta time, but a handful of almonds with the remaining drops of fino sherry will certainly ease the transition.

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