Brenner Pass co-owner and Saison bartender James Kohler, pictured in Saison (Photo by Jay Paul)
Right now, all I hear is “rosé all day.” While rosé has its place, with its celebration of bright acid and fruity notes, all I can think about is the drying salinity of fino sherry or the nutty complexity of amontillado.
I think that Talia Baiocchi said it best in her book, “Sherry,” when she wrote that the fortified wines “are arguments for rebellion against fruit: wine’s anthems about the savory.” Sherry, misrepresented for years by the sweetened and blended bottles that you probably snuck from your parents’ pantry, is the best thing you aren’t drinking.
Ninety percent of all sherry comes from one grape: palomino fino, the only grape allowed in the dry variety. Along with the sweet grapes Pedro Ximénez and moscatel, it’s a testament to the flavor found in the Spanish terroir of “The Sherry Triangle,” the province north of Cádiz between El Puerto de Santa María, Jerez de la Frontera and Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
So the next time you’re shucking oysters in the backyard, do yourself a favor and sip some fino. If you’re looking to impress with your Ibérico ham and cheese board, save the Rioja and pour a rich and nutty palo cortado, or the next time someone calls for port, suggest the raisin-toned, toffee-like Pedro Ximénez. Your taste buds — and guests — will thank you.
James prepares a Fall Sherry Cobbler cocktail.