Drinks: Ice-cold Spanish sherry is perfect for summer
Stuck in a wine rut? Do you usually reach for a glass of dry white wine with a bowl of nuts, dips or olives on a summer’s evening? Then it’s time to change things up and consider a glass of ice-cold “tan frio” fino or manzanilla sherry instead - don’t worry, it’s still served in a wine glass.
Enjoying a renaissance after years in the doldrums (banish all thoughts of Granny’s cream sherry), the trend for Spanish restaurants, tapas bars and smaller plates of food with salty bites such as cured sausage, manchego cheese and shellfish has spurred our thirst for something bone dry, cold and tangy.
The sherry triangle around Jerez in the south west of Spain is framed by three Andalusian towns and produces several styles of sherry, all made from the palomino grape. But it’s the fortified fino and manzanilla that have caught our attention and the quality and reasonable price tag only strengthen their appeal.
Matured in a series of barrels called the solera system, fino is aged for a minimum of two years under a layer of flor yeast, while manzanilla begins life as a fino — but its birthplace must be from the region of Sanlucar de Barrameda, on the west coast.
Close to the sea, this is where the humid air influences the flor and engages the taste buds with an underlying saltiness. The flavour profile is determined by the density of the yeast which sits on top of the wine and matures in the barrel for a minimum of three years.
So next time you bring out the salty almonds, anchovies and serrano ham, here are some super sherries to match them ...
Unbeatable value and a good introductory style to woo you in the right direction, Morrisons’ Fino Sherry (£5, 75cl, Morrisons) has typical savoury flavours with a lovely yeasty tang and a crisp, fresh finish.
A classic that always comes tops in tastings, The Society’s Fino (£6.25, 75cl, thewinesociety.com) will have you reaching for a jamon sandwich in no time. Distinct, bready aromas, a fresh, citrus element and notes of salty almonds make this extremely reviving when the sun comes out.
A handy half bottle with a screwcap and perfect for picnics, Bodegas Gutierrez Colosia Fino Sherry (£8.49, 37.5cl, laithwaites.co.uk) displays a little more richness and complexity with dried fruits on the deep, savoury finish.
Meanwhile, a more delicate, lighter version of its fino cousin, a manzanilla such as Barbadillo Solear Manzanilla (£4.75, 37.5cl, Waitrose) is achingly dry but just as delectable. Bright and brisk with saline and almond on the tangy finish, there’s a citrus fruit note to make you want to pair it with garlic prawns.
Another alternative from Bodegas Barbadillo in the coastal town of Sanlucar de Barrameda, the family-owned winery also produce Tesco Finest Manzanilla Sherry (£6, 50cl, Tesco) which is bright and balanced with round fruit notes and salty, tangy aromas.
Multi-layered and more complex, pasada manzanilla sherries are aged for longer and styles such as Hidalgo Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada (£10.50, 75cl, thewinesociety.com) share the same saltiness but with deep, savoury fruit adding to its saline charm.
Note to self: After opening any sherry, keep in the fridge and consume within a week to enjoy optimum freshness.
Hidalgo Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada, £10.50, 75cl, thewine society.com
Bodegas Gutierrez Colosia Fino Sherry, £8.49, 37.5cl, laithwaites.co.uk
Barbadillo Solear Manzanilla, £4.75, 37.5cl, Waitrose