Make Merry with Sherry in Jerez

2014 European Capital of Wine

3It’s a capital year to drink sherry in Jerez! The city is holding a year-long festival of wine tourism to celebrate its most important local product. And, as you’ll discover, sherry’s no longer a little old ladies’ drink!

 

 

My Sherry Amor

sherry crop

My granny kept a bottle of it in the dark recesses of her pantry to offer to visiting clergy. A drink to be sipped in bird-like pecks from thimble-sized glasses with your little finger crooked, just so.

More sherry vicar?

It was a never-except-on-a-Sunday drink with a whiff of gentility and a medicinal taste. Neither naughty nor nice (it goes off quickly, once opened).

I’ve been on those sometimes interminable bodega tours where you’re given unpalatable facts about fungicidal flor, souring the prospect of the free tasting. And in all my years as a travel writer I never once ‘wasted’ my duty free allowance on a bottle of the stuff associated with maiden aunts and Women’s Institutes.

But what Calendar Girls did for the WI, clever marketing is doing for sherry in Jerez!

It’s getting a sexy new makeover in the home of its birth. Jerez is 2014 European Capital of Wine and sherry is a wine, zut alors, whatever the French say. So if you’d like to give the Croft Original another chance, now is the time to make merry with sherry in Jerez. It worked for me!

Have you ever tried …

Sherry by the wine glass

Make merry with sherry at La Carboná

… sherry by the wine glass with your meal?

With mains and puddings too! It’s quite the done thing at La Carboná. This great Michelin Guide-recommended restaurant used to be a bodega. Guapo young chef Javier Muñoz, aka The Sherry Chef, gives you a tasting you won’t forget in a hurry. His saucy cooking techniques would scandalise your grandma and  make the vicar tiddly: meat sauces, sweet sauces, marinades and maridajes, all made with sherry!

 

sherry in Jerez

Fun by the barrel-load

 

… sherry straight from the barrel?

Head for a tabanco where they serve it from the wood for €1 a shot, in measures that would make the vicar slur his sermon! It must have had a similar affect on Ashton Kutcher and his girlfriend Mila Kunis last year. After being caught on camera downing sherry at El Pasaje (the oldest tabanco in Jerez), they snuck off for a Ritual del Amor at the Hammam Andalusi, say no more…

 

 

sherry in Jerez

… sherry in a cocktail?

Master mixologist Eloy García of Bar Cubaname Museo de Ron (Rum Museum) has won more cocktail contests than your granny’s had Tio Pepes and now he’s shaking it up with sherry. I made merry with five of his sherry combos and didn’t even wake up with a resaca. The man’s a maestro!

 

 

Even the bodegas are PX-Factoring up their acts. At Tio Pepe you can try a catamaridaje – a sherry tasting paired with a palo of flamenco.

Enjoy a fandango with your fino and a malagueñas with your manzanilla. Olé!

I used to think manzanilla was a herbal tea – not my cup of tea at all – until I went to Jerez this year. Now I’ve come to appreciate the dry wit of a flirtatious fino … the full body of a smooth oloroso …. and I’d run off with Pedro Ximenez and a chocolate brownie tomorrow, a maridaje made in heaven!

That doesn’t mean I’ve turned into my granny who only thought there was one type of sherry. British sherry.

“Don’t give me that foreign stuff,” she used to say. “You can’t beat good old Harveys from Bristol.”

sherry in Jerez

Sherry cuisine at La Carboná

 

A Capital Year to Make Merry with Sherry in Jerez

sherry in Jerez

Springtime at the Alcázar

Extra highlights – full programme from www.jerez2014.es

  • June 1-15 Sherry & Tapas Bars and restaurants compete to create the best maridaje of sherry and local produce, and you get to vote.
  • June 2-8 International Sherry Week If you can’t get to Jerez, never mind – ISW founder Chelsea Anthon will connect you virtually with fellow aficionados celebrating globally. Take part in exclusive online sherry master classes, tastings, cooking shows and interviews or promote your own event and interact with sherry lovers across the worldwide web and social media in multiple languages. Last year, Chelsea united sherry lovers from 29 countries at more than 300 events.
  • July & August Summer Nights Flamenco, tango, concerts, theatre and tastings by moonlight in the romantic settings of the Alcázar and Plaza de la Asunción.
  • August 23 La Vuelta Inspired by the Tour de France, the annual Cycle Tour of Spain sets off from Jerez on the first of three legs through Cádiz province on a marathon 21-stage race to Santiago de Compostela.
  • September 9-14 Vendimia Grape Harvest Festival Jerez celebrates with grape-treading and rivers of the gold and amber nectar.
  • October (tba) VI Copa de Jerez International Chefs and sommeliers compete to create the best three-course gourmet menu, judged by a panel of restaurant greats such as Heston Blumenthal, Josep Roca and Juan Mari Arzak.
sherry in Jerez

Programme of Events (click to enlarge)

Read my illustrated feature about Sherry in Jerez in the April issue of Essential Marbella magazine

Top 10 Things to do in Jerez – Other than Enjoy Sherry!

If you’re in Jerez in May why not make this fantastic event a date for your diary: The Almadraba Tuna Festivals of Cádiz

 

2 Comments

  • Mo April 19, 2014 at 10:07 pm Reply

    An article packed full of punch .. er, sherry! But here´s the question. How did sherry get to be a little old lady´s drink? Is it low in alcohol? Was it somehow deemed genteel enough to be drunk by respectable pillars of the society? I have a fantastic but not entirely respectable uncle who has drunk sherry all his life – he´s now 86 and looks 20 years younger. Maybe that´s it. It´s the elixir of life!

    • Belinda April 21, 2014 at 4:06 pm Reply

      I believe it was deemed ‘genteel’ in the way that port/brandy and cigars was an after-dinner macho-only pursuit. Before skirts rose above the floor, only ‘fast’ women drank spirits, and certainly not ale, while gin or ‘mother’s ruin’ had connotations with abortions and ‘the poor’. Cheers!

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