International Sherry Week: The one where I experiment with Spanish food and drink

Every year I don my Scientific Experiment cloak ahead of International Sherry Week. I’ve done it again –  I’ve mixed and matched a glass or two of sherry with some tasty home-cooked morsels.

To help me on my way I browsed 101 Great Ways to Enjoy Sherry (details later) for sherry and food pairings. Here we go then.

International Sherry Week Tio Pepe Fino
Tio Pepe Fino

Padron peppers, meatballs and cheese. Oh, and sherry

Tio Pepe Fino (RRP £10, 75cl, widely available) is my first match and a fino is perfect with salty foods. I flashed padron peppers in a pan with olive oil until they blistered, then sprinkled with sea salt. Oh my, they were so incredibly moreish. I’d chilled the fino and its cool almond, savoury nature was a perfect glass with the warm, salt-smothered peppers.

International sherry week padron peppers tio pepe
This was yummy. My first attempt at padron peppers with a glass of Tio Pepe

Morrisons has a good range of inexpensive sherries and Oloroso Dry Sherry (£6, 37.5cl) won the best value fortified wine under £8 at this year’s International Wine Challenge.

International Sherry Week Morrisons Oloroso Sherry
Morrisons Oloroso Sherry

Oloroso means “fragrant” and it is certainly that. It is aged in American oak casks and the air contact creates a mahogany-coloured sherry which has aromas of sweet figs, Bonfire toffee, hazelnuts and raisins. The sweet nose is deceptive, as in the mouth it was dry and a good contrast with a plate of chorizo and Spanish hams.

While I’ve been writing this, some albondigas Spanish meatballs have been simmering. I’m pouring a drop of Del Duque 30-Year-Old Amontillado VORS (RRP £19.99, 37.5cl, Ocado, Oddbins). VORS means “very old rare sherry” and indicates a wine which has been aging for over 30 years. This then must be special.

Internatioal Sherry week Del Duque 30-Year-Old Amontillado VORS
Del Duque 30-Year-Old Amontillado VORS with my home-made Albondigas. Very tasty.

The nose is intense with dried fruits, apricots, and burnt caramel.  I had dashed the albondigas with wine, smoked paprika and garlic; the woodiness of the paprika together with the heart and soul flavours of the very old amontillado is brilliant.

International Sherry Week Noe 30-Year-Old Pedro Ximenez VORS
Noe 30-Year-Old Pedro Ximenez VORS

The pudding I forgot to have But the sherry is amazing

A sister sherry to Del Duque, from González Byass, is Noe 30-Year-Old Pedro Ximenez VORS (RRP £19.99, 37.5cl, Ocado, Waitrose Cellar, Majestic). If I’d remembered to buy ice cream or tiramisu I’d be able to tell you first-hand that this PX is the most wonderful way to add a flourish to dessert. I know that it would be just heaven. You need a sweet tooth for this unctuous nectar of deliciousness, which is rich with notes of molasses, black treacle and prunes.

Aldi has a new sherry range in store from this week, including Exquisite Collection Cream Sherry (£5.99, 50cl) which I’ve poured with a slice of Stilton. The sherry isn’t as overpowering as some creams, as it is more subtle.  It still delivers a silky rich waltz of dried fruits and toffee. It took off on that palate dancefloor with the cheese and together they didn’t put a foot wrong.


PS There’s a  new sherry in the Co-op during International Sherry Week. Mil Pesetas Manzanilla Sherry (£6.50) is available pre-chilled from October 8.


International Sherry Week facts

Did you know that the UK is the number one export market for sherry? Each year over 10 million bottles are consumed here in the UK. We love it.

The 5th International Sherry Week takes place from October 8-14. Follow the hashtag #sherrywines on social media; go to www.sherry.wine

Huge thanks for the food pairing inspiration in Fiona Beckett’s e-book 101 Great Ways to Enjoy Sherry (£4.50) which can be downloaded from matchingfoodandwine.com


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