Pairing Sherry with Food – Does It Work?

This is the era of iconoclasts. Forget about the adage of white wine with fish and red wine with meat. Rather drink what you like no matter what you’re eating.

Having said that, can Sherry be paired with food? Let’s go further than that- can Sherry be paired with all courses throughout a meal? We did just such an experiment here in

our Sherry dinner at Ibiza Tapas

New Haven and I’d like to share the results with you.

We were fortunate to have a Sherry expert lead us in this experiment. Robert Colopy is the New England representative for Gonzalez-Byass and he knows Sherry inside out. He collaborated with the chef at Ibiza Tapas in Hamden, CT to develop an intriguing menu with Sherry paired with each course.

First here was our menu followed by my comments and reactions:

  1. Tio Pepe FINO
    paired with Gazpacho Andaluz /Andalusian Gazpacho/Fresh tomatoes,cucumber,garlic,vinegar and olive oil.
  2. VINA AB AMONTILLADO
    paired with Arroz con setas /Mushrooms Risotto/Portobello Mushrooms white onions and White wine.
  3. LEONOR PALO CORTAD
    paired with Codornices a la plancha/Grilled quail
  4. ALFONSO OLOROSO
    paired with Estofado de Cordero/Lamb stew served with mashed potatoes.
  5. NECTAR PEDRO XIMENEZ
    Vanilla ice cream with wine poured over, whipped cream, and sprinkled with an almond praline
I personally thought #2 was the best pairing but I was alone. Most people thought that # 3 and #4 were the favorites.
Our 1st pairing was actually very, very good. The Tio Pepe Fino had a briney, yeasty aroma and taste, with a touch of almonds, that went very well with the Gazpacho, so homerun.
The Viña AB Amontillado, my favorite combo, was bottles after 12 years. It had the same elements as the Fino but with the addition of caramel, butterscotch and almonds and went superbly with the risotto.
The Palo Cortado was a nice match with the grilled quail; some in the group though it was the best match. There was a slight sweetness and a nutty flavor.
The Oloroso was unctuous and delightful by itself but the combination of the sweetness with the saltiness of the lamb stew was not to my liking- but it was preferred by others in our group.
And for dessert, who can argue against Pedro Ximenez paired with ice cream drizzled with the same wine.
There’s a lot of history with Sherry, dating to the Phoenicians who first introduced viticulture in Southern Spain in 5BC, followed by the Romans. Gonzalez Byass is probably the largest producer of Sherry with 80 thousand barrels in their cellars.
The Jerez region is arid but gets as much rain as London or New England, only it all comes down in 2 months, February and March. The special yeast grown in the area is unique in producing the flor which grows on the surface as the wine ages. And the region is also unique for the solera system which blends wines from one with vintage with wines from the previous vintages.
There’s a proverb in Jerez that helps with selecting which wine:
If it swims, drink Fino or Manzanilla; if it flies, drink Amontillado or Palo Cortado; and if it runs, drink Oloroso.” 
I thank my wine buddy, Len Gulino, as well as this suggestion for additional suggestions on pairing Sherry with food.
So Sherry is the unique product of 3 factors: cask, age and the yeast. It  may turn heads in the restaurant but try one of the pairings on your own to make your own decision.

grilled quail

gazpacho

risotto

our speaker Bob Colopy

lamb stew

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