If you thought sherry was just a tipple for Grandma at Christmas then drink again.

Sherry is versatile from an aperitif to a scrumptiously sweet dessert. The vines are baked in the scorching sun of southern Spain on chalky white soil of Jerez.

Starting with an aperitif: the pale dry fino is made from the palomino grape. It goes through the solero system and is protected by the covering of yeast called flor which protects it from oxidisation giving it that perfect freshness. Manzanilla is a lighter style than Fino and from the coast of Sanlucar de Barrameda and has a faint salty tang that is said to have come from the sea. These wines are perfect as an aperitif with bread and olives. (Bardadillo Manzanilla Sherry and Bardadillo Fino Sherry)

We then move on to Amontillado and the best comes from aged finos that have lost their freshness. This is either done from the yeast dying naturally and the loss of flor or encouraged by the adding of alcohol to kill off the yeast. It produces a softer, darker wine and can be sweetened. Great match with tapas dishes. (Vina B Amontilillado and Leonor Palo Cortoado )

Olorosos are much darker and richer than amontillado, the floris killed off early so as to lose the freshness and develop oxidised, nutty flavours. Dry olorosos work well with game dishes. (Alfonsa Oloroso, Cristina Olorosa Sweet and Leonor Palo Cortoado)

Moving to the sweet trolley to complete we have Pedro Ximenez also referred to as PX, this is the grape variety used and the style of wine. As with other sweeter tasting wines the grapes are dried so that the flavours are concentrated, developing the sweet raisin flavours. Drizzle over ice cream and wonderful with Christmas pudding. (Nectar Pedro Ximenez and Noe Pedro 30 Year Old Pedro Ximenez)

Just don’t tell Grandma I told you to try her sherry!

All of these Sherry’s and further advice is available from Kelli and Co at The Wine Shop, Winscombe

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