Monday, September 15, 2008

Joanna Simon in The Sunday Times, August 31, 2008: Food-friendly Fino

If there was a really refreshing wine to serve with shellfish, smoked fish, parma ham, chorizo, olives, salads, manchego, parmesan and almost anything else you might find at a good deli counter, surely people would be queuing up for it? All the more so if it wasn’t expensive. So, where are the queues for dry sherry?

There are some converts who know how good fino and manzanilla (the pale dry styles) are with food, as well as before it, but most wine drinkers don’t give them house-room all year. It’s partly because sherry per se has an image problem, but more because people don’t think of fino and manzanilla as wines like pinot grigio, sauvignon or chardonnay. Fair enough; they are different.

But not that different. Fino and manzanilla are bone dry with a savoury, far less fruity flavour than, say, chardonnay, and they are stronger, although, at 15% abv, not much stronger. Try the three below, always serving them well-chilled and in ordinary wine glasses. If you want a familiar name, Tio Pepe is always reliable (£8.79-£8.99, widely available), as is the newer Harveys Fino (£8.18, Morrisons).

La Gitana Manzanilla, £7.29-£7.49
Delicately salty, dry apple flavours. Cheap at the price (Tesco, Waitrose Sainsbury’s).

Valdespino Deliciosa Manzanilla, £12
Aptly named, fresh, nutty, savoury (Planet of the Grapes, 020 7405 4912).

Lustau Puerto Fino, £10.99
Smoky, tangy and nicely rounded (Philglas & Swiggot, 020 7924 4494).