Sherry pairings in Jerez

One could spend days in Jerez being amazed by the infinite pairings of dry sherry with food, if mostly to satisfy a curiosity of pairing a low to medium acid, non-fruity, fortified wine with seafood.

My revelatory meal was at the Restaurant “El Marques” in Jerez where we had an all-sherry pairing dinner.  Our starter was a plate filled with carpaccio of cod topped with an olive and lime vinaigrette, a crepe filled with smoked salmon, guacamole, cray fish and baby onions, and thin slices of king prawn dressed simply with local extra-virgin olive oil and Jerez vinegar and Maldom salt.  This was served with a very dry fino “San Patricio” from Bodegas Garvey.  The dry structure and moderate acidity of the Fino balanced the clean flavors of the seafood and tartness of the vinaigrette.

We then were served seabass from the Bay of Cadiz with prawns and scallops in a light white wine almond sauce, which was served with a dry Amontillado “Tio Diego” from Bodegas Valdespino.  The  smooth body and nutty flavors of the Amontillado complemented the almond sauce while the finesse of the wine complemented the delicacy of the fish.

We then had a magret of duck with plums, which was served with an Oloroso “Alburejo” from Bodegas Alvaro Domeq.  Full-bodied, smooth and round, with notes of hazelnut, spice and savory earthiness, the sherry complemented the rich duck and plum-based sauce.

The big revelation for the evening for not only myself but other, I would say, high-level food professionals, was that for the entire meal, we kept going back to the dry Oloroso.   You must try it to believe it.

One of the great dessert wines if only because it can be used as syrup is Pedro Ximenez.  It is a sweet wine made from dried PX grapes and therefore is one of the sweetest wines on earth with easily over 300 grams/liter residual sugar (by comparison, a Sauternes might be about 100 grams).  It is almost syrupy in texture, black in color, ultra-sweet and concentrated in dried fruit, coffee, chocolate, spices and nutty flavors.  Pour it over vanilla ice cream and you will have a quick and easy, but decadent dessert.  This evening, we had it with nougats parfait with white chocolate mousse and dark chocolate mousse with coffee.