Tapas and sherry at Cambridge Wine Merchants

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Tapas and sherry to celebrate the Sherry Week in Cambridge

A really enjoyable night at Cambridge Wine Merchants Cherry Hinton Shop pairing tapas and sherries

The guest tasted five sherries of Gonzalez Byass, one of the best well-known sherry producers in Spain

The wines were paired with five tapas to match smells and flavours in a perfect combination

Sherry tasting at Cambridge Wine Merchants Cherry Hinton Road
Sherry tasting at Cambridge Wine Merchants Cherry Hinton Road

Cambridge Wine Merchants Cherry Hinton Shop organized a sherry and tapas tasting to celebrate the International Sherry Week. A fantastic opportunity to discover new smells and flavours from Spain and learn about these wines that are unique and part of the Spanish gastronomic culture.

Sherry (Jerez in Spanish) is a fortified wine made with grapes which are grown in the protected designation of origin area of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain.

There are different kinds of sherries but they are made only with two types of grapes, palomino and Pedro Ximénez. The first one is used to produce white wines like manzanilla or fino or darker wines that have been oxidated in barrels like oloroso or amontillado. The sweet sherries are made with Pedro Ximénez grapes; they are creamy and mellow and combine perfectly with desserts.

Gonzalez Byass brought its best and more recognised sherries to be tasted. ¡Qué Rico! Tapas designed a menu to match the wines with traditional and authentic Spanish tapas and dishes, combining smells and flavours in a perfect match.

The night started with a fino sherry Tío Pepe, paired with a board of sow’s serrano ham and longaniza. Fino is the driest of the varieties of sherries but delicate and an elegant nose so it combined well with the sow’s serrano ham as it is a cured meat with stripped fat among the meat which gives it a special taste.

Serrano ham and longaniza marching a Tio Pepe sherry of Gonzalez Byass
Serrano ham and longaniza marching a Tio Pepe sherry of Gonzalez Byass

The second wine was an amontillado seco Viña AB. These kind of wines are dry as well but with a tawny colour as are exposed to oxygen. It is a more complex sherry with aromas of caramel and almonds. They are the perfect match for an aperitive. Because of that, ¡Qué Rico! Tapas paired this sherry with a tapa of anchovies with vinaigrette. The salty and vinegar cured taste of the anchovies was balanced in the mouth with the dry and mellow sherry. It was served in sardine cans, a different and fun presentation that the guests liked.

Anchovies and vinagrette for the sherry tasting at Cambridge Wine Merchants
Anchovies and vinaigrette for the sherry tasting at Cambridge Wine Merchants

Prawns with garlic was the tapa chosen to match with Alfonso, a dry oloroso, with intense aromas of dry foods and wood. This sherry combines perfectly with seafood so the traditional and popular prawns with garlic were the perfect partner for this wine.

Prawns with garlic and a oloroso sherry
Prawns with garlic and a oloroso sherry

One of the most interesting wine that night was the Leonor Palo cortado, a rare variety of sherry that combines the richness of oloroso and the crispness of Amontillado. Some people say that this wine was an “accident” and other ones say that is “art” as nobody knows exactly how this sherry occurs.

Leonor is 12 years ageing and presents an amber colour, with an intense nutty aroma of toasted almonds and hazelnuts; it is persistent and powerful in the mouth with a long aftertaste.

Palo Cortado is perfect for meats and mushrooms so, bearing in mind that it was Autumn and there were amazing fresh mushrooms, I decided to match it with empanadillas, a crispy and light pastry, filled with a dough made with mushrooms and Piquillo peppers. The earthy taste of the mushrooms with the subtle sweet hint from the peppers balanced the perfumed Palo cortado taste.  And it seems that people enjoyed it!

Discovering smells in Gonzalez Byass´ sherries
Discovering smells in Gonzalez Byass’ sherries

The final touch was a Néctar, a sherry made with Pedro Ximénez, a creamy and sweet wine, perfect for desserts and used as well to cook sauces and vinaigrettes, as provides the dishes with a hint of sweetness, a creamy texture and a darker colour. This wine combines with chocolates so the perfect marriage was well-known and popular churros with chocolate. Just, yummy!

Churros with chocolate, perfect sweet end
Churros with chocolate, perfect sweet end

Pictures by Anta Mai.

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