It’s goodbye maiden aunt, hello royalty for the world’s most under rated tipple
Part of sherry’s new popularity has been its appearance in Downton Abbey and this has been reinforced by recent pictures in the Daily Mail showing the Duchess of Cambridge enjoying a glass of Harveys Bristol Cream sherry in the Officer’s Mess on a trip to Aldershot.
Harveys is a name synonymous with sherry in the UK, it dates back to 1822 when the young John Harvey joined a Bristol wine merchant. Over the years John strengthened his ties with Spain and started to import and blend sherries. One of his most successful fusions was Bristol Cream.
The word sherry derives from the anglicised version of Jerez, this town and the surrounding area in Spain is the only place that sherry can be produced. The vineyards in the region mainly grow the Palomino grape, from which nearly all sherries are made, the balance is produced from the Pedro Ximenez grape which is ideal for dessert wines.
Sherry is a very versatile drink and its many variants are suitable for pairing with a range of foods and for drinking at social occasions. Lightest of all the sherries is the Fino, this has a crisp, refreshing character with aromas of fruit and almonds. Drink it with sushi, smoked salmon, Serrano ham, cheese and salted nuts.
Fino is also the basis of a Rebujito cocktail – sherry with ice, a slice of lemon and a soft drink. Mix the sherry with either soda water, 7Up or Sprite, it’s your choice, pour over ice in a Collins glass and add a slice of orange. This is the updated version of the popular Victorian drink, the Sherry Cobbler.
Next in terms of intensity is the Pale Cream, Harveys produce a good example of it. Drink it chilled as an aperitif and enjoy its clean and honeyed taste. This sherry can also be paired with salads and marinated or smoked fish.
After Pale Cream comes the Amontillado, this is a smooth elegant drink with woody and nutty notes. This goes well with ham, chorizo, spicy dishes and curries.
You then get to the Bristol Cream, one sip and it is easy to see why it has kept its popularity for 150 years. This sherry is a deep golden colour with aromas of candied orange, dried fruit and toasted almonds. Serve it neat or on the rocks with a slice of orange.
Harveys also do a range of Very Old Rare Sherries (VORS). These have been aged for more than 30 years using the Solera system. The Solera system blends sherry from different years in a cascade so that many vintages are mixed. The Harveys Soleras were founded more than 100 years ago so you will get a drop of extremely old sherry in your bottle.
One of the most notable VORS is the Pedro Ximenez (PX). This is a rich, luscious, sweet dessert wine made from dried PX grapes. It has an immensely complex taste with flavours of raisins, liquorice, black treacle and dried figs. Pair it with chocolate cake or sticky toffee pudding or, for a real treat, drizzle it over vanilla ice cream.
So there is a lot more to sherry than your maiden aunt ever imagined, from the sophisticated to the downright decadent, it really is a drink for all occasions and food pairings
Harveys sherries are widely available from good supermarkets, off licences and wine merchants. For more information visit www.harveyshalfhour.co.uk