Tag Archives: sherry

Four Great Spanish Wine and Cheese Pairings

Wine and cheese, an inseparable marriage of two great foods. And one that is enjoyed the nation over here in Spain. However, there is a subtle art to creating pairings, especially in a place that offers so many different options of each.

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One of the biggest pitfalls I see of matching these foods is that there is this stubborn and persistent expectation that cheese should always be paired with a red wine. This is a fallacy for several reasons: one is that as there are so many different tastes, it is a poor move to simply pair them indiscriminately, and two is that when you get down to the chemistry of it, salt and tannin don’t mix well whatsoever.

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I suggest not trying to pair highly cured cheese like manchego with any reds, or any bleu cheeses, as it will kill the taste of both the wine and the food. But that isn’t to say there aren’t good pairings for them, or that no red works out well with any cheese.

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  1. Manchego and Port – Old manchego especially, or curado. The high salt content mixes very well with the sweetness of a port wine. Alternatively, it goes well with richer sherries, anywhere from Amontillado to Palo Cortado.
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  2. Montsec and young Red – if you really do want to have a red with your cheese, goat cheeses from the north of the country work well. But make sure it’s a young red, something soft, and preferably not aged in oak barrels. Often times the bite of a crianza wine or older is too much and overshadows the cheese.
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  3. Sweet whites and smoked cheese – I am a big fan of Albariño in general, and of diametrically opposed tastes, so when I found this suggestion I tried it post haste. Since Albariños are fruity, it does play well off of a smoked cheese. I recommend Idiazábal cheese (native to the Basque Country).
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  4. Sheep’s milk cheese and Cava – Many of the cheeses from the Pyrenees, such as Tupi or Ombra have distinct tastes that linger, and go well with chilled cava, which won’t overpower and thus mask the unique taste of the cheese. Cava is soft enough to compliment, and I recommend semi dry.

5 Types of Sherry

Sherry, Spanish fortified wine, has to be one of the most underappreciated wines out there. Though it has a wide range of taste and goes well with almost any food, it has largely been ignored by the wine drinking population outside of Spain. But, according to Winemag.com, sherry is surging in popularity with the millennial generation.

So let’s take a look at five of the sherries Spain has to offer. If you want some good recommendations on what to buy check out the most recent edition of the buyer’s guide.

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First, what is sherry? It’s a fortified wine, meaning a distilled spirit, usually brandy, is added to it. Sherry comes in a myriad of colors and tastes, sometimes it is a dry aperitif, and sometimes it is an after dinner taste.

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In Spanish, it is called jerez, named for Jerez de la Frontera, where it is exclusively made.

1. Fino

Fino is the lightest sherry, quite dry and slightly acidic, with a significant flor, which is the film of yeast that blankets the top of the liquid while it is in the barrel (shown below). It is typically 15% or so abv (alcohol by volume), and food for pre dinner appetite whetting.

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2. Manzanilla

Manzanilla is also a light sherry, much like its close cousin the Fino, but slightly less harsh and chalky. It’s pretty much perfect when paired with seafood.

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3. Amontillado

Not only a fine drink, but also a great ploy if you need to trick your friend into coming down to your dungeon with you so you can immure him for some unnamed offense (yes I just made a Poe joke). When the flor does’t hold up and the yeast blanket falls through, the nutty, rich taste of an amontillado is the result.

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Careful with it, though, it´s about 18% abv on average.

4. Oloroso

Oloroso is the ‘strong smell wine’ according to it is name, and is made when the wine maker purposefully skims or breaks the flor in order to let air into the brew. It´s about the same abv as the amontillado, but can be sweet or dry depending on what grapes are used.

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5. Palo Cortado

No one is quite sure how a palo cortado happens. It loses its flor much like an amontillado but then somehow becomes much thicker and tastes more like an oloroso, because of a mysterious process that no one is quite sure of. So it is kind of the rebel, doing it’s own thing.

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Most decent brands, Tio Pepe, or Gonzalez Byass to name the big ones, won’t even run you much money. So take it from us, try out a sherry with your next meal, and you’ll be hooked on it, too!