“What you are now trying is a type of Sherry that is… Of an acquired taste,” one of my instructor colleagues said, cautioning his class of would-be WSET2 certificate holders about the taste of the liquid in their glasses.
Understandably, to the Asian palette, dry style Palomino Sherry is something out of our comfort zone. As we are used to drinking something sweet, we normally prefer the sweet style of Spanish Sherry made from Pedro Ximenez grapes (or the PX for short).
This may clue readers in as to which sherry to get from the store, but as an Asian that slowly but surely developed a palate for the dry style, let me defend my stance.
Admittedly, I also had a hard time appreciating this Spanish staple in the beginning, no matter how many times I needed to use it for work-related research (#professionalalcoholic).
Then, a European sommelier clued me in on how to appreciate it: have it ice cold.
My life was forever changed.
I never knew it could happen, but now I look for it during hot days (like today… Seriously, has anyone noticed how humid it is today?).
Here are ways that I’ve discovered (through personal experience and friends’ demonstrations) on how to enjoy dry sherry:
- Pair it with olives and/or proper Spanish jamón (preferably a jamón serrano or a jamón ibérico)
- Use it as part of an incredibly refreshing Rebujito (something I’ve learned from one of the people I work with): Put 2 shots of dry sherry in a glass full of ice and slices of lime. Top with lemon soda (for a sweeter version), soda water (for something more neutral), or tonic water (for a touch of bitterness).
- I was taught to see this as an alternative for martinis… They do have a similar flavor profile, and I found this as a great lazy alternative (read: I don’t have to make a cocktail!).
A good benchmark for a proper dry Palomino sherry is Tio Pepe by González Byass.
In 1835, Manuel Maria Gonzalez set up the company that was to become Gonzalez Byass in Jerez*, Spain. Manuel was mentored in this by his uncle José Angel de la Pena (nicknamed Pepe), who specialised in sherry production. In 1837 Manuel gave a bodega (cellar) to his uncle (tio in Spanish) so that he could create a delicate sherry (at the time, dry sherries were only enjoyed by few locals in Jerez). The beautifully dry taste of José Angel’s wine was a great success, and in 1849, Manuel named what is now the world’s best-selling Fino after the original creator, his Tio Pepe**.
As a Spanish friend said, it’s such a part of their culture to have Tio Pepe during a sunny day, chatting the day away over nibbles. One could easily see a lot of us Manileños doing the same.
That said, excuse me while I fight this heat with a glass. Cheers!
Muchas gracias to one of our favourite friends, Ricardo Infante
Tio Pepe is available in Rustan’s Supermarkets and Barcinos restaurants (plus other restaurants… It’s often available by the glass too!)
*Jerez, Xeres, and Sherry all pertain to the same fortified wine created in Spain, Jerez being the original (as it was named after its regional origin)
**Source: tiopepe.co.uk (some information have been directly quoted or rephrased from the site, credit to the original author)