We’ve all heard of sherry, right? I think of it as this white wine, super dry and easy to cook with. Or if you’re old or English, I think of this as your drink of choice. I also thought of sherry as barely drinkable. When I lived in Richmond, VA, we used to have these grocery stores called Ukrops. They had Christian “values”, like not being open on Sundays, not selling cigarettes (you didn’t know that was in the Bible, did you?), and apparently not selling cooking sherry.  Seriously, if you sit and pour yourself a glass of cooking sherry to drink, you’ve got a problem. And I used to think that if you drank regular sherry, you had a problem too.

“Sherry” is Jerez (hair-eth) in Spanish. Evidentially, the Spaniards were making this stuff, and the English loved it.  But they couldn’t pronounce it, so they called it Sherry. (What a bastardization, huh? I love it – “Forget this, Sir John, let’s just call it Sherry. Easier for us. These Spanish people talk with a lisp anyways…”)

Anyways, your traditional sherries are white and are typically fortified with a neutral grape spirit (think grape vodka) that doesn’t affect the taste of the wine. This is in part because the grapes themselves don’t contain a ton of alcohol, but also to make them more stable back when they were shipped overseas.

I am not one for dessert wines, at all, but this one surprised me. Jerez, Matusalem Oloroso Dulce Muy Viejo is a different type of sherry. From its name alone, you can see that it is sweet (dulce), very old (muy viejo), and some other stuff I don’t understand. It is aged so long that it’s a kind of brown/caramel color. The sherry grapes (Palomino Fino) are mixed with juice from the Pedro Ximénez grapes, which are super sweet. These grapes are dried out like raisins first, and then blended with the traditional sherry grape juice. They are exposed to the air during the aging process, which gives the wine its nutty flavor. The result is a super fragrant, delicious wine. The wine smells herbal, syrupy, molasses and woody, as it is aged in wood barrels. It smells like dried fruits, figs (yum!!), dates and vanilla. The flavor is very interesting. It is a bit nutty, syrupy, oaky and a tiny bit bitter (as is normal for sherries).

I tried this with salted marcona almonds, which bring out the nutty flavor of the wine. I almost died. It’s great with blue cheese (say Valdeon or Maytag), as you would expect. I am itching to try it with dates stuffed with a bit of blue cheese and a toasted almond, wrapped in bacon (turkey bacon for me). I can see the salt and sweet really culminating well with this wine.

A little goes a long way – one of those cordial glasses would do fine. I know the cordial after drink is a little out of style, at least here, but I say bring it back!

~ Dana