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A glass of Sherry Madam? I’d forgotten how much I used to enjoy a wee glass of Sherry, and after a week on holiday in Spain, I was back on the tipple I had thought was rather old fashioned, something old ladies drank when they were feeling rather daring, and wanted something more exciting than a cup of tea! Or something you splashed over the Trifle!
I have to say I sampled some rather dry sherries, but did enjoy them to various degrees before my dinner, nibbling away at tempting bits and pieces, but back home they seemed even more mouth puckering and so I was tempted by a bottle of Crofts Original in a litre sized bottle costing about £7.75, although I’m sure I’ve seen it more expensive in some shops.
A BIT OF HISTORY
Jerez in Spain, the home of Sherry, was fought over by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors. By the 16th Century people in Britain were drinking fortified white wine, much sweeter than how we know it now and called Sack – probably from the Spanish name “sacar” which means to take out or export.
A BIT OF GEOGRAPHY
Sherry comes from Jerez in Spain, an area between the Guadalete River at Puerto de Santa Maria and the Guadalquivir and the Atlantic at Sanlucar de Barrameda, part of Andalucia. Harvesting takes place in early September, and it is a great time of festivity with bullfights, fireworks, processions and flamenco dancing. It ends on the Sunday with releasing doves and as the first juice runs from the grapes.
A BIT ABOUT PRODUCING SHERRY
Sherry is not like other wine as it is matured with free access to the atmosphere and is aged in a cask with some air. A “flor” grows on top of the yeast which eliminates harmful vinegar-producing bacteria, and allows the sherry to develop slowly. Blending and maturing takes years depending on the type of Sherry. Mixing a little of the newer wine with an older one as some is drawn off. The casks are stored in tiered rows in a Solera. It is possible to visit these and taste different types of sherry, but a word of warning, you might not remember which one you liked at the end!
A FEW TYPES OF SHERRY
There are different types of sherry, Fino which is the lightest and driest, a very delicate sherry. Amontillado, more amber in colour, still dry and has a nutty flavour. A Pale Cortado is darker in colour and is between an Amontillado and Oloroso, which is soft and full bodied, very fragrant. Amoroso is a sweet smooth Oloroso with Pedro Jimenez wine added to sweeten it.
A SPECIAL BOTTLE OF SHERRY!
Now to describe my bottle of Croft Original Pale Cream Sherry. I bought the litre size, it’s about 29cm high and has a diameter of nearly 10cm – too big for my hand to comfortably hold it so I have to pick it up by its neck which is about 5cm long. It a lovely dark green glass with raised lettering stating “ESTD 1678” on the front and “HOUSE OF CROFT” on the back. The label is classy in dark green, white, and gold and black. It is produced in Spain and is 17.5%Vol. The cork is still proper cork! And is topped in green plastic making it easy to pull out of the bottle. It states to always serve chilled, that is something I do not always do! I don’t mind my sherry room temperature, but it is lovely chilled. It is a subtle blend of Fino sherry with the added depth and body of a cream. Also available in a 75cl size.
THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE
After removing the bottle from the fridge, and selecting a nice glass pull the cork from the bottle. Enjoy the lovely sound as it pops out! Enjoy the aroma which meets your nostrils – a scent of rich grapes and hot summer evenings! GLUG, GLUG, GLUG pour yourself a generous glass. Admire the beautiful pale coloured liquid. (I work in a Health Centre and it looks rather like a pale urine specimen!) Do the test like they do on television, put your nose over the glass and inhale. (It doesn’t smell like a urine specimen!) A blend of citrus, nuts, warmer smells than many white wines. Now taste (and I never spit out!) well I’m not going to waste this liquid gold, am I? Mmmmm nicely sweet, with a tiny hint of sharpness, a good flavour which lasts and as you swallow leaves a warm feeling, all the way down your throat to your stomach. As to flavour I find it hard to describe, it’s not like cheap dry Sherries, it has a depth of flavour with a blend of fruit and nuts, and sweetness not like a liqueur but comforting. Gosh that’s the glass finished, I’ll need another one to finish writing and by then I will not be able to type, perhaps I should get something to eat with this next glass!.
A LITTLE NIBBLE
Sherry is best known as an aperitif, but a sherry like Croft Original can be served with fishy things or instead of a sweet wine with the dessert or fruit course. I admit to liking a glass in the evening when my husband has a Whisky, and then I might nibble some crisps or nuts or some chocolate – it goes very well with rich Belgian Chocolates!
SOME WAYS TO USE SHERRY
STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM THE ORIGINAL WAY
450g Strawberries Grated rind and juice of 1 Orange 5tblsp. Sherry 50g Caster Sugar 284ml carton Double cream
Reserve the 4 best looking strawberries for decoration. Wash and slice the remainder and divide between 4 large wine glasses. Sprinkle the orange juice over. Place the orange rind, sherry and sugar in a bowl, slowly whisk in the cream until it just holds it shape. Spoon over the strawberries. Slice the remaining strawberries nearly to the base and fan out, place on top of the cream. Serve with a crisp biscuit or piece of shortbread.
If making this for children use a little extra orange juice in place of the sherry. For an extra traet servw with a glass of sherry - Croft Original of course!
Whip cream. Drain Cherries and reserve the juice. Chop and stir into 2/3rds. of the cream. Stir sherry into cherry juice and dip each biscuit into mixture. Spread 2 spoons of the cherry cream onto one side of each biscuit and sandwich together to form a log. Cover with remaining cream, and chill for 2 – 3 hours. Grate a little plain chocolate over the top and serve.
SMOKED SALMON AND CHEESE SCONES
Make some small cheesy scones and split and butter, spread with cream cheese and top with a small piece of smoked salmon. Or use small crackers eg. Ritz, these are lovely with a glass of sherry before dinner.
I add a splash of sherry or even a glass of sherry to liven up sauces but confess they are usually a cheaper brand. It’s superb in trifles, but at its best drunk chilled. As the bottle says “Both light and delicate in colour, yet smooth and luxurious in taste”, that describes it well.
It’s delicious, it’s delightful, it’s de-luxe! And the bottle is ALL MINE! I don't like sharing this one, but if you're a special friend, I'll make an exception!