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December 4, 2014

On the menu: Sherry explained

Once four of our favourite bars had offered us a tipple of sherry, we began to feel that it might be a "thing". Discover more to the classic fortified than what your Great Aunt might have shared over happy hour in our first in a new series of articles that seek to explain the city's finer details.

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  • Words: Jonny Von Einem & Joshua Fanning
  • Photos: Joshua Fanning & Andre Castellucci

Listening to Radio National’s Drive program we recently learnt that our consumption of alcohol might date back as far as 10 million years.

Apparently, our distant primate relatives were getting a bit tipsy on fermented fruit they found laying about on the ground even as the Earth’s forests began to fracture and recede. Speed forward 9,997,000 years and modern man has started making that cheeky aperitif, sherry!


A fine selection of sweet and dry sherry is available from Udaberri and goes incredibly well with their spanish pintxos menu.

This year we’ve noticed bartenders in Adelaide giving Frasier Krane’s favourite tipple a gentle nudge across the bar. Just last week the recently launched and exhaustively-researched local purveyor of wine from far and wide – Brix Wine Store – dedicated an entire email to one of Spain’s most famous exports – sherry.

An extraordinarily old drink with a tremendous amount of heritage, sherry took a bit of a plunge in popularity due to some misrepresentation and all ’round lack of understanding. To restore balance in the minds of those out there who, like us, like to know a bit more about what’s in their glass or on their plate, CityMag sat down with Travis and Michelle Tausend of Cork Wine Cafe and Brix Wine Store to glean a bit of insight into this beautiful beverage.

What’s sherry’s story?
It’s a [very] old drink – 3000 years or so old. Popular in England in the 16, 17 & 18th Centuries lead to an increased English presence in the area [all sherry, said Jerez  in Spanish, is made from white grapes grown near Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain]. To export the sherries the wines had to be fortified for their journey. The ‘solera’ or raging process sherries go through was brought in in the late 19th Century – resulting in the wines we drink today. In Australia, sherry has long been understood as a sweet drink because of the cream sherries that became popular in the 20th century and we often hear a bit of  surprise from customers when explaining that all of the sherries we pour at Cork are dry. The wines are becoming more popular today and we are seeing a lot more people having sherries as a pre-dinner option – if you get a chance have a sherry and the saltbush dish at Orana – holy bloody hell, delicious!  

Sherry seems to be in the spotlight on a few menus around town. What do you put this down to?
I think it comes down to people genuinely giving a shit about what they drink. People want to try new things and the funny bit is, new things are nearly always very old things that don’t shout for your attention, which makes them a real find. Also, sherry is so good with food!

What varieties of sherry are there, and what is the ideal situation to drink them?
There are more styles than varieties. I really like the Fino style as an aperitif & with antipasto, Michelle likes to drink Oloroso with everything, Amontillado is great with cured things and smoked things, I like Pedro Ximinez with desert and all sherries pair well with cheese!

Is there a particular time of year that is best to drink (or buy) sherry?
Drink sherry now (not time specific) so tomorrow the same applies… drink now… buy sherry whenever you want… but buy good sherry from people who know about sherry… like brix wine store 😉

What are your favourite picks of sherry?
Argueso Manzanilla / Bodega el Maestro Sierra Oloroso / Bodegas Tradición NV Palo Cortado / 919 pale dry apera

What makes sherry the ideal summer drink?
Its fresh, its playful, it works with summer foods, it is really bloody cheap!

In your experience as a wine seller, what type of person has sherry been attracting lately?
All types but generally it seems that they know their way around a wine list.

Who is most likely to be a soon-to-be sherry fan, and what would you say to convince them to move from their usual drink of choice to a sherry?
Me: Hello, i think you should try this…
Person who doesn’t drink sherry: What is that?
Me: Dry sherry
Person who now drinks sherry: That is yum.
Me: I’m glad you like it! 

We found a short story about sherry by Edgar Allan Poe (The Cask of Amontillado) via a link from the sherry cheat sheet you mailed out. Do you have any favourite examples of sherry in popular culture?
Not really, it’s not as fashionable as champagne and the tomes put out about that.

Are there any other little known sherry-related facts you think people should know?
Most of it is made from the same grape.


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