Inspiration / Food & Wine

International Sherry Week: A Style For Every Dish


Joanna Goodman Joanna Goodman / 04 November 2020

If we had our way, here at The Wine Society, we'd advocate every week be sherry week! It has to be one of the wine world's most undervalued fine wines and is made in such a huge variety of styles that there's a sherry for everyone.

The other reason we love sherry so much is because it's highly versatile when it comes to food. There's a sherry style to go with just about any dish you care to confront it with, and when it comes to confrontational dishes, with our tradition of mixing up cuisines, that's something you could say we have down to a fine art in this country!

Here's a quick guide to get you going with some ideas for both classic and more quirky suggestions. If you want to brush up on styles of sherry first, feel free to read our Ultimate Guide to Sherry.

Sherry week: A style for every dish

Where to start?

Which styles go with what kinds of food?

There's an old adage to help make light work of this:

'If it swims, drink fino/manzanilla'
'If it flies, drink amontillado/palo cortado'
'If it runs, drink oloroso'

Fino & Manzanilla

Classic: olives & almonds, prawns & shellfish, fish & chips!

Quirky: dim sum, sushi, Mexican crab tostadas

Why it works

Crisp, mouthwateringly fresh and briny, the driest of sherry styles work brilliantly with subtly spicy Asian and Mexican dishes. Think sherry when you get your next take-away!

Manzanilla Pasada

Classic: garlic prawns, rich crab-based dishes, shellfish stew

Quirky: pulled pork in bao buns (with all the trimmings)

Why it works

Maturation in barrels concentrates the nutty flavours while retaining all the zest of straight manzanilla making for a taste sensation that is light like the bao bun with enough cut to deal with the pork.

Palo Cortado

Classic: grilled, oily fish, hard cheeses, Iberico pork

Quirky: Chicken or duck liver pâté, slow braised aromatic beef with root veg and dates, grouse, macaroni cheese with smoked bacon lardons.

Why it works

Lovely fullness of body; the zinginess of the fino it almost became, and intense nutty flavour of these wines - which mysteriously lose their protective flor - make them sure-fire winners with smoky, slow-cooked dishes with deep, rich flavours to match the wine's.

Dry Amontillado

Classic: game, hard cheeses, kidneys in sherry, albondigas (Spanish meatballs

Quirky: roasted cauliflower, salmon teriyaki

Why it works

A wonderful balance of refreshing 'cut' and nutty dried fruit in this style of sherry stand up to the sticky sweet glaze of the gently aromatic teriyaki and matches the earthy nuttiness of the roasted caramelised cauli.

Salmon Teriyaki
Salmon Teriyaki

Sweeter Amontillados

Classic: cured meats, hard cheeses, nuts

Quirky: caramelised onion tarte tatin, satay dishes and mild curries

Why it works

The sweeter element of this style of amontillado married to the freshness inherent in the style that also began life as a fino, means it can stand shoulder to shoulder with the sweetness and spice of the Asian dishes here, and offers a supporting shoulder to the sweetly charred yet yielding onions and crisp pastry.

Dry Oloroso

Classic: mature cheddar, gouda or parmesan, Spanish dishes with artichokes

Quirky: Chinese duck dishes, Moroccan tagines

Why it works

Dark and handsome, deeply nutty and very fragrant, and packed with dried fruits, the oloroso style can match the aromatic spice of the duck or tagines while the dryness of the finish refreshes as you go.

Try tagines with dry olorosos
Try tagines with dry olorosos

Medium Dry Oloroso

Classic:Blue cheese and nuts, braised pig cheeks in sherry

Quirky:Meat Balinese Style

Why it works

The savoury umami flavours in both the dish and the wine accentuate the sensation of sweetness in both and the seam of underlying acidity helps to carry the wine flavour through. Remarkably the heat of the chilli is tamed and enhanced in the process as well.

Sweet Oloroso

Classic: blue cheese, rich fruit cake, stilton & walnut tartlets

Quirky: sticky toffee pudding, rich venison stew

Why it works

The deep, rich, hearty flavours of sweeter styles of oloroso have enough of a nutty, savoury character to match bold, rich game stews yet are sweet enough and have enough balancing acidity to cope with the richest of puddings and even chocolate!

Venison Stew
Venison Stew

Pedro Ximenez

Classic:blue cheese, ice cream, bitter chocolate, Christmas pudding, churros with chocolate sauce

Quirky:Baked figs with blue cheese and toasted hazelnuts/almonds.

Why it works

The rich, mouthcoating intensity and sweetness of PX is not easy to match with savoury dishes unless you have some water on hand too, for cleansing the palate. The honeyed sweetness of very ripe figs allied to the luscious salty depth of blue cheese, not to mention the toasty nuts, all find mirrors in the wine.

Read more on sherry

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