Back in 2015, advicesisters.com published an extensive article about Sherry wine. These fortified wines from the Jerez / Xérès / Sherry DOC in Spain, have long been considered to be fantastic after-dinner wines, but in the 2015 article, we discussed that Sherry is a versatile wine for supping, pairing, and cooking. In fact, the range of wines makes excellent choices for all aspects of a meal. And they can even be used in cocktails.
The Jerez-Xeres-Sherry Denominación de Origen was the first Spanish wine DO. Sherry must come from an area outside of the city of Cádiz between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María. This is the southernmost tip of the country, just north of the straights of Gibraltar. Sherry wines are generally produced from three white varietals: Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel.
We recently had the opportunity to sample 4 different Sherry wines from Gonzalez Byass, a family-owned collection of wineries founded in 1835, and headquartered in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.
A Classic: Harveys Bristol Cream:
We started with a familiar wine, Harveys Bristol Cream (NV: $20.00). The wine, which is made with 80% Palomino and 20% Pedro Ximenez grapes. It owes its name to a wine and sherry blending and merchant business founded by William Perry in Bristol, England in 1796. The wine has been blended and bottled in Jerez, Spain since that time. Actually, the wine has changed little since the 1880s. It is the best-selling Sherry wine in the United States.
This is a classic cream Sherry and gets that name because of its outstanding smoothness. The wine is mahogany in color (ok more of a walnut) with golden hints. The nose is somewhat tropical, with caramel and iodine notes. On the palate, the wine is smooth with fig, hazelnut, and caramel apple notes, but also demonstrates good acidity. Try serving it with a twist of orange which should provide the citrus note that many of the other Gonzalez Byass wines have.
Harveys Bristol Cream really isn’t a dessert wine, though it would pair amazingly with carrot cake and whipped cream. However, the acidity and subtle nature of the Sherry would lend it to pair with sweeter entrees as well, like glazed ham, or try this – Chinese foods like orange chicken, or sweet and sour pork.
3 Sherry Wines to Try:
If you have only tried Harveys Bristol Cream, I recommend you branch out and try some less famous but unique and delicious sherry wines from Gonzalez Byass. They range from extremely dry to very sweet.
The first of these was Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Dry Oloroso (NV: $17.00 for 375 ml). This wine, made from the Palomino grape is amber to copper in color. The nose was a blend of tropical fruit notes and the medicinal (iodine) notes that one often gets from Sherry wines. On the palate, there was a quick lemony citrus note up from. But from there, the wine moved to some more forest flavors, finishing with a lingering walnut.
Our testers found this wine to be very dry, and fairly acidic. It might be an acquired taste. But this is a food wine with good acid and would pair very well with smoked meats, hard cheeses, and with seafood like oysters and shrimp, These compliment the iodine notes.
A sweeter Sherry, Gonzalez Byass Solera 1847 Cream (NV: $17.00 for 375 ml) has a more classic Sherry feel. Made from a blend of 75% Palomino and 25% Pedro Ximenez grapes. This wine was the tasters’ favorite! At this price point, it’s also a very good value.
The wine is Chestnut brown in color and features a nose that is redolent with toffee and chocolate. On the palate, the wine is port-like, with raisin and cocoa notes. Upfront there were notes of oak and vanilla, with some orange peel on the finish. This wine would also pair well with food. However, it’s, more of a dessert wine than the dry Sherry. Impress your guests by pairing it with anything from cheese, to vanilla ice cream to chocolate cake.
Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez (NV: $17.00 for 375 ml) was made from 100% Pedro Ximenez grapes. The sweetest of the wines that we sampled, the Nectar has an ebony color, with notes of cherry, iodine, and woods. The palate is dominated by figs (really a fig newton in a glass) and is very sweet. However, there is good acidity in the wine that ensures that the sugar is not cloying. The finish is long and lingers forever. There are some interesting mint or menthol notes that give it a refreshing feel.
I have seen recommendations to pair this wine with chocolate, but honestly, I would enjoy this one all by itself.
These four Sherry wines demonstrated the range of wines from the Jerez (Jerez / Xérès / Sherry) region and are surprisingly versatile for pairing.
How to Store and Serve Sherry:
Make sure you choose the right wine glass for sherry. You aren’t drinking a lot of it as you would with regular white or red wine. Hint: the sherry glass is the smallest one on the right!
Surprise your guests at your next dinner party when you bring out a dry sherry to pair with oysters or a lamb course during the holidays. Once you open up the bottle some wines will last longer than others. The chart of sherry wines above can give you a good idea of how fast to drink it up.
For more information visit https://www.gonzalezbyassusa.com/