Monday, 18 May 2015

Sherry and Food Matching at Birmingham Foodies Festival 2015

Dee:  The first of the specialist talks that we booked in for at the Foodies Festival was on sherry and food matching.  The host was Charles Metcalfe, an author, speaker and general all-round authority on the subject of wines from around the world.  Charles maintains a web site which can be accessed via this link:  CharlesMetcalfe.com  He is also noted as a singer, occasionally bursting into song during his presentations, though this one was spoken word only.
The presentation began with an introduction to the ‘sherry region’ in South Western Spain, followed by how the different types of sherry were made and even the effects of the landscape on production.
Attendees were provided with a summary sheet detailing the five different sherries that we would be sampling, and the foods that they had been matched with.  This was most useful and I have kept mine, which I’ve added additional notes to, for future reference.
Prior to the talk, I had, perhaps lazily, assumed that the only food that sherry would match with would be tapas, and was prepared for a Spanish themed presentation, but was soon to discover how versatile a drink sherry can be.
Below are details of the sherries we sampled, with their respective food pairings.  Thanks to Jay for the photos.

Sherry # 1:  Manzanilla La Gitana Hidalgo
Food Pairing:  Black Olives
Dee said:  An almost clear coloured, strong, tangy and bone-dry sherry which stood up well to the equally strong and salty black olive.
Additional comments:  This sherry should be stored in the fridge and served cold.  It also needs to be finished off soon after opening; one week at the very most.  No one seemed to see this as much of a problem when Charles pointed it out.

Sherry #2:  Tio Pepe Fino Gonzalez Byass
Food Pairing:   Smoked salmon
Dee said:  Another dry sherry but lighter than the Manzanilla.  It was a good pairing for the delicate flavour of the smoked salmon.
Additional comments:  The comments about the Manzanilla apply equally to this sherry.  I was very interested to discover that Islay malt whiskies were also a good match for smoked salmon, so will be certain to try out that pairing in the very near future.

Sherry #3:  Pedro's Almacenista Selection Amontillado
Food Pairing:  Chicken Tikka
Dee said:  Who would have thought that sherry would go well with chicken tikka?  Not me, but it does.  This one had a fruitier aroma than the first two and was rich and gold, almost coppery in colour.  The taste was still unsweetened though, but stood up well to the spiced chicken.
Additional comments:  This sherry started out as a Fino but had been aged.  Unlike the first two sherries, this one could be kept longer and did not need to be finished off quickly.

Sherry #4:  Palo Cortado Dos Cortados VOS (Williams & Humbert)
Food Pairing:  Goat’s Cheese
Dee said:  This was richer, fruitier and more alcoholic than the Amontillado.  I thought it would swamp the goats cheese, but it was more of a pairing of textures than flavours; The white, melting texture of the cheese alongside the smooth sherry.  It was a careful balancing act, but it worked well.
Additional comments:  The VOS in the name of this sherry stands for Vinum Optimum Signatum, or Very Old Sherry, and is applied to sherries that are at least 20 years old, as this one was.  There is also a VORS classification, which is Very Old Rare Sherry (Vinum Optimum Rare Signaturm) which is given to sherries with ages of 30+ years.  As with the Amontillado, this sherry can be stored.

Sherry #5:  Oloroso Seco “Don Nuno”, Emilio Lustau
Food Pairing:  Smoked Chorizo
Dee said:  This sherry was darker in colour and richer, though less fruity than the Palo Cortado.  I wasn’t able to discern any specific flavours from it.  It tasted fine alongside the chorizo, but I probably need to brush up on my sherry drinking before trying it again.
Additional comments:  Oloroso sherries were described as pairing well with Chinese style chicken, which sounds like an interesting combination.  As with the Amontillado and Palo Cortado, this sherry can be stored.

Sherry #6:  Bristol Cream
No photograph for this last drink, but read on…
Food Pairing:   Orange and Ice
Dee said:  The serving of Bristol Cream over ice with orange juice squeezed into it and the slice returned to the glass was quite a revelation, and Jay’s favourite of the session.  Definitely still a dessert drink but cold, fruity and sweet in all the right measures.  Prior to today I had only ever tried Bristol Cream once or twice at Christmas, but this new way of serving it has given it a whole new lease of life.
Additional comments:  A blended sherry that is well known in England and drunk as a dessert sherry.  Again, this one is fine for storing.

We both enjoyed this session very much, and our fellow attendees appeared to as well, even though a fair few of them seemed to be pouring their drinks away after taking a single sip.  It was a shame that we couldn’t have stayed longer but the queue for entry into the next one was already formed by the time ours had finished.

Now, must try that Bristol Cream again…

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