The five sherries you need for christmas
As Britain’s love affair with Spanish food and wine continues to grow, get to know Jerez’s most famous export over the festive season. From a dry, chilled fino with savoury canapés to a sweet oloroso and moreish mince pies, explore a style of wine that’s so diverse there’s a sherry moment for every Christmas occasion.
Expert winemaker Antonio Flores, from Spanish wine producer Gonzalez Byass, talks through his top sherry picks for Christmas and explains why he thinks history and tradition is so important in winemaking.
TIO PEPE – ANY MOMENT
Serve ice-cold, as chilled as Champagne. Drink it anytime. Its savoury, palate cleansing properties make Tio Pepe the perfect refresher between the season’s indulgences. Available at all major retailers including Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco.
The foodies’ drink of choice, get in the know and serve a chilled glass of Tio Pepe to guests this Christmas with a bowl of salted nuts or pigs in blankets. Tio Pepe is produced in Jerez, Spain.
Antonio says: “Tio Pepe is made from palomino grapes which we age through the traditional solera system in our bodega in Jerez. Every three months my team and I sample every single one of the 22,000 barrels of Tio Pepe so that we can make sure it’s consistent, reliable and tastes absolutely perfect. Extremely dry, Andalusian sun in a bottle!”
RRP £9.99 – £11 – Christmas promotions vary between £8 and £9, exact prices available on request nearer the time.
DEL DUQUE – THE SURPRISING MOMENT
Serve slightly chilled. Drink it as an accompaniment to roast beef if you’re cooking this instead of turkey on the big day. The perfect surprise for your Christmas guests.
Available at Selfridges, thedrinkshop.com, Oddbins, The Whiskey Exchange, BBR, Cambridge Wines, Farr Vintners, Fortnum and Mason, General wine Company, Hanging Ditch, Harvey Nichols, Peckham & Rye (Glasgow)
An exquisite amontillado aged for 30 years in the historic Gonzalez Byass bodega in the heart of Jerez, Del Duque has an intense concentration and complexity, so it’s great with savoury meals or cheese.
Antonio says: “A 30 year old Tio Pepe. This is the ideal sherry for those who have dry tastes. Del Duque is the natural progression of Tio Pepe in cask over time, exposing the wine to oxygen, giving a deep flavour which explodes like a canon on the palate.”
APOSTOLES – THE CHEESEBOARD MOMENT
Serve after chilling in the fridge for half an hour. Drink it with the after dinner cheeseboard or a special Christmas paté. Available at Ocado, Waitrose Cellar, Selfridges, thedrinkshop.com.
Antonio says: “The perfect trilogy, the perfect blend of Palomino, Pedro Ximenez and American oak all perfectly balanced together. Technically this is an ‘off dry’ sherry as it’s mainly made with Palomino grapes. The addition of a small proportion of Pedro Ximenez grapes combine with the Palomino to create a complex yet smooth Palo Cortado. The result is a sherry that has hints of butterscotch and caramel with a delicate sweet finish.
“The wine is aged for 30 years in our solera system which before me, was looked after by my father. Because nearly all sherry is non-vintage, winemakers like us have to identify the barrels which we want to combine to produce a consistently perfect sherry. It requires a very well-trained nose and taste buds. You could say sherry runs in my blood!”
MATUSALEM – THE MINCE PIE MOMENT
Serve chilled after placing in the fridge for half an hour. Drink it with blue cheese or mince pies. This is Christmas in a glass! Available at Ocado, Waitrose, Selfridges, thedrinkshop.com
Antonio says: “Matusalem is a sweet oloroso sherry that’s full of raisin, fig and date aromas with a touch of spice from 30 years spent in barrel in the Gonzalez Byass bodega in Jerez. It’s made up of 75% Palomino grapes and 25% Pedro Ximenez grapes which make it deliciously sweet. This wine shows an interesting bittersweet finish, like life itself, bitter from the old tannins and sweet from the Pedro Ximenez. Savour the flavours of cinnamon, dried fruits and candied peel whilst nibbling on blue cheese or a mince pie. It’s Christmas in a glass!”
NOE – THE ULTIMATE SWEET MOMENT
Serve after chilling in the fridge for half an hour. Drink it on its own if you have a very sweet tooth, or drizzled over vanilla ice-cream. Available at Ocado, Waitrose, Master of Malt, Tesco
Antonio says: “This is the ultimate sweet sherry. A dessert on its own or perfect drizzled over vanilla-ice-cream.” A 30 year pedro ximenez, it has an intense ebony colour and the smells and tastes of figs, coffee and spices.