Forget what you know about sherry. This fortified wine that originated in southern Spain may be typically associated with the creamed variety—that almost sickeningly sweet version that’s gathering dust on the decanters and bottles in the back shelves of your parents’ liquor cabinet. But sherry, originally made of white grapes grown near the city of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, is so much more than a queasy aperitif, and there are legions of events slated throughout the world to help people come to understand this complex, inviting liquor, whether as a key ingredient in a cocktail or simply chilled and sipped slowly. Whiskey, you’ve got some competition.
Now in its fifth year, International Sherry Week unfolds from October 8 through the 14th, as a series of private and public events held throughout the world. You’ll find everything from private sherry tastings and cocktail classes to food/sherry tastings and classes to introduce you to the many styles of this often-overlooked liquor. To see if there are events in your area, check out this site, or consider diving into the world on your own by organizing an event yourself (registration is free).
And, for those who don’t have anything happening around them that week, we tapped Chantal Tseng, a Certified Sherry Educator, Head Bartender of the Reading Room of Petworth in Washington, DC, and self-described sherry ninja to suggest a few gateway versions to help you dip your big toe into this very large pond.
“Classic Tio Pepe Fino or La Guita Manzanilla both are super refreshing and quaffable and a long way away from the more sticky-sweet association a lot of people still have with sherry today,” says Tseng. “But there are so many others that are so delicious and can easily fit into a wide array of meal parings. I find Amontillados (also dry) to be the most pairable in a diverse array of foods from fresh seafood to spicy to meaty. A great one to start with is the Lustau Los Arcos or the Bodegas Grant La Garrocha Amontillado.
And for the whiskey lovers in the world, Tseng suggests looking for an older Palo Cortado or Oloroso (dry again). “Bodegas Tradicion makes both and they are best sipped slowly in a glass to appreciate their aromas.”