At long last sherry is having a moment.
Having long been misconceived as a sickly sweet tipple reserved purely for Christmas or grandmas, those in the know have been quietly enjoying their bone dry sherry wines as a favoured aperitif for quite some time, but now the cat is out of the bag and sherry is back with a vengeance, bringing with it disco tunes, lay backs and plenty of flavour.
Salty, nutty and aromatic, dry sherry wines make up the larger part of this fortified wine family (the exceptions to this being cream and PX – the aforementioned nectar sweet varieties), and are best enjoyed ice cold with olives, nuts, and preferably a bit of sunshine. From the lighter finos and manzanillas through to the more robust, but still dry, olorosos and palo cortados, sherry packs more of a punch than wine and can rival any whisky when it comes to depth of flavour and complexity.
Now the penny has finally dropped summer 2017 saw Jerez’s unrivalled wines back in fashion… as well as a brand new sherry bar in Shoreditch, London’s wine bars are meeting the increased demand for this most glorious of drinks with larger and broader offerings – it’s time to get involved…
Head to… Drakes Tabanco
The most authentic Tabanco experience you’ll find in London – this utterly charming little sherry tavern just off Charlotte Street serves a range of sherries straight from ancient oak barrels (the first place to do so outside of Jerez), delivered with an abundance of enthusiasm and knowledge from their wonderful staff.
The sherry range here is extensive, but if you’re looking to increase your knowledge then start with their tasting flights of both fino and manzanilla sherries. Ticking off young and fresh, en rama (meaning raw - an unrefined and special small batch release from each year) and an aged wine that shows the depth and flavour that can develop over time – it’s a quick delicious route to understanding the varietals and finding your favourite style.
Once you’ve quaffed these down, don’t leave without trying the palo cortado from Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla straight from the barrel. An extraordinary style of wine that started its life as a discarded mistake until a smart winemaker realised the travesty in this and promptly began bottling it as a limited edition. Still the rarest of sherry varieties, it mixes the finest qualities of an amontillado and oloroso wine to give a joyous glass of hazelnut, oak and caramel.
Head to… The Remedy
One of London’s best keep vinous secrets, this small wine bar near Great Portland Street serves, among it’s well crafted and ever changing wine list, a precise and varied selection of dry sherries.
Fino Perdido, Sanchez Romate
Bone dry, rich and full bodied, the name means 'lost fino' and refers to its style bordering the line between fino and amontillado – a classification of wine that no longer exists. This wine receives very little filtration and as such also exudes qualities you’d find in en rama – it’s salty, yeasty and punchier than any fino you’ll find, and all the better for it.
Head to… SACK
Sherry and disco – just why no one has come up with this winning formula before is puzzling, but now thank goodness they have. SACK sits on a sunny corner in Shoreditch and with its light and airy Spanish décor, mega playlist, and propensity to get its patrons enjoying sherry laybacks, may just be your new favourite hangout.
It didn’t make it to be the biggest selling fino in the world without the goods to back it up – Tio Pepe is light and perfectly quaffable, a good session sherry if ever there was one – but it’s also steeped in history and was nurtured, from its initial conception at the hands of Uncle Joe in 1841, by five generations of the Gonzalez Byass family to make it the flagship wine of this mammoth family business.
The joyous team at SACK serve their Tio Pepe from mini barrels and having now mastered the art of venencia (decanting from the barrel to glass with a funny little rod) actively encourage you to give it a go as a lay back. It’s low ABV and mostly ends up on your face so it’s definitely worth a go.
Sherry Week is on across London November 6-12. For all the details head over here #sherryweek