Sherry in the Summer
Let’s dispel two errant thoughts to which the headline may move you: 1) We are not talking about a Four Seasons musical group hit; and 2) We are not referring to any woman you may have known.
Sherry is an often-underrated spirit, which has its origins in an out-of-the-usual path southern region of Spain. Sherry hails from the Cadiz region of southwestern Spain. One of the centerpiece cities is Jerez, and it will not take you long to figure out why the liquid spirit made in the area is called Sherry. Keep in mind that in Spanish the J is silent. Not the case, of course, in English.
Sherry is a grape-based spirit, a wine in its heart, which is a result of all the processes, fermentation, and distillation. Cognac follows the same production path but with different grape varietals. Sherry’s main grape ingredient depends on where the creator wants to end up, with a slightly oxidized product that has taste, sweet or dry, going on forever, or a brighter younger “cream” version that is sweeter and beloved by grandmothers everywhere.
The age of Sherry is not of grand importance since sherries are usually a blend of both old and new wines. Spain’s signature solera method of blending means that wines are added to the mix as the product Is made, with older wines being poured on top of younger wines to the point that no true definition of age can be definitely determined. When an age is stated on the label it is the age of the oldest wine in the blend with no definition as to what is the percentage present.
Also, Sherry is a fortified beverage meaning there is always some hard spirit present in the final blend. This was, and is, done to buck-up some rather wimpy grapes as well as to assure that in the transportation to faraway ports, the wine can hold together in the boat conditions of constant motion and high heat.
Sherry’s varying levels of sugar and high acidity levels make it a darling as a cocktail ingredient. Some bartenders prefer using sherry rather than simple syrup to add a depth of sweetness rather than just the presence of a sweet ingredient.
Sherries, because of the range of sugars associated with various styles, are great accompaniments with food. The lighter sherries work well with desserts and the heavier ones are ideal for the meat course.
This may be a good time to begin your Sherry journey. A recipe is below which should give you a decent start. In the beginning of your exploration, there is no need to buy at the top of the price point. But be aware that cheap Sherries are likely not going to deliver what you are seeking during your education of drinking enjoyment.
- 1 oz Russell’s Reserve 6-Year Rye
- 1 oz Amaro Nonino Quintessential
- 1 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
- 1 dash Regans’ Orange Bitters No 6
- Stir it Up. Add ice. Now stir all ingredients over ice
- Strain into coupe
Alex Day, Death & Company, NYC | Cocktaillove.com
Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com on Thursdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails every month in New Orleans Magazine.