It’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 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 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 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 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.”
Extra highlights – full programme from www.jerez2014.es
Read my illustrated feature about Sherry in Jerez in the April issue of Essential Marbella magazine
If you’re in Jerez in May why not make this fantastic event a date for your diary: The Almadraba Tuna Festivals of Cádiz