sherry.jpgHave we got a drink for you. We know you’re out there. The person who gets that tingle in the middle of your tongue that can only be satisfied by one thing, salt. We all know the typical go-to cures like pretzels, chips or a dirty martini – all fine options. But sometimes the usual feels mundane and we’d like to suggest another option to consider…dry sherry.

A stretch? Perhaps. But for those true salt-lovers out there, you might want to hear us out. We understand there are a few obstacles to overcome here. First of all, when it comes to wine, saltiness is not a characteristic that’s sought after or praised. That can be easily reconsidered with one sip of a fine Amontillado. But perhaps the bigger challenge to address is the perception of sherry. Or misperception may be a better way to describe it.

If Sherry is even on your radar you make perceive it as being old-fashioned, stogy high-alcohol oxidized wine. It’s rare to find a decent collection on wine lists and unfortunately the only prevalent option is the ubiquitous and uninspiring sweet Havery’s Bristol Cream Sherry covered in dust on the shelves of your local bar (we don’t recommend that one). The sherry we’re proposing are complex, dry quality wines (at excellent prices) that are crafted in an unusual way.

Most Sherry is produced in the town of Jerez in the Cadiz region of Spain. There are several styles ranging from the crisp dry Finos to the sweet or dry Olorosos to the luscious Pedro Ximenez (PX). We could go on about each of the styles forever, but our salt craving is beginning to set in so we’ll focus on the Fino and the Amontillado. These sherries are produced is in a process called fractional blending in a solera system where older wine is blended with younger wine in series of stacked barrels called butts. Within each barrel a layer of yeast has formed called flor, which plays an important role in reducing oxidation of the wine and also imparting a slight yeasty/nutty flavor. These wines are fortified up to 15.5% alcohol, which is optimum for the growth of flor. The difference between a Fino and Amontillado is that in the Amontillado some of the flor dies off and allows for a little more oxidation of the wine, imparting a more full, nuttier flavor.

So what does all this mad scientist blending and yeast give us? A unique, complex fortified wine that you have to taste to believe. The signature note of these great dry wines are of course salted nuts, here are two that are worth a try…

La Cosecha Fino Sherry, around $14
Clean and refreshing with developed aromas and flavors of salted nuts and a hint of apple.

Hidalgo “Napoleon” Amontillado, around $20
Beautiful amber color with notes of salted nuts, hazelnut and toffee.

Leave it to the Spanish who perfected salty little snacks to bring us a delicious beverage to go with it. If you haven’t tried sherry yet, for around $15 it is well worth the risk. Not having a bottle around when the craving sets in, well that’s just a risk we’re not willing to take.