What’s in all those barrels, found in Andalucia, Spain? It’s sherry, baby.
Al Gore might not have seen it coming, but the Farmer’s Almanac predicted this would be the coldest winter in a decade. Weather this frightful calls for something more than that Snuggie you got for Christmas. Thankfully, it still leaves your hands free for a glass of my favorite winter warmer—sherry. Sadly, what most people know about sherry leaves it banished to the back of a cabinet only to be dug out to deglaze a pan now and then. Its highly involved classification and aging method contribute to its enigma, so here are the CliffsNotes on how this puzzling wine is made and, most importantly, how to enjoy it.
Sherry is one of five oft-neglected fortified wines (along with port, madeira, marsala and vermouth), which were born from the need for European wines to withstand the fluctuating temperatures and constant motion of their lengthy trade journeys in the 16th and 17th centuries. Made from palomino, Pedro Ximénez and moscatel grapes and fortified with brandy, sherry is produced exclusively in Spain’s southwestern region, Andalucia, in and around the town of Jerez (the anglicized version becoming its namesake).
O.K., now pay attention. After a typical fermentation that results in a dry white wine with 11-12 percent alcohol, it is sampled and classified with marks that indicate the potential of the wine. A single stroke indicates a wine with the finest flavor and aroma (suitable for manzanilla, fino or amontillado) and is fortified to about 15 percent alcohol to allow the growth of flor, a yeasty foam that creates an air-tight seal over the wine’s surface, preventing oxidation. A single stroke with a dot indicates a richer, fuller-bodied wine (suitable for oloroso) and is fortified up to 18 percent alcohol to prevent the growth of flor, thus allowing oxidative aging. A double stroke indicates a wine with undetermined potential (amontillado? oloroso?) and is fortified to about 15 percent alcohol. A triple stroke indicates a no-go and the wine is either distilled or used for vinegar. Wine that makes the cut goes into American oak casks leaving “two fists” of space on top. This space allows the flor to develop in the finos and oxygen to be present in the olorosos. The solera system of aging and blending creates a consistent product year after year. Simply put, one-quarter to one-third of the oldest wine is drawn off for bottling and then replaced by wine from the next oldest tier and so on up through the entire stack of casks. Older wines lend character to the younger wines and younger wines lend nutrients to the older wines. Piece of cake, right?
Dry sherries (manzanilla, fino, amontillado and oloroso) should be served chilled and enjoyed before or with a meal. Tangy, delicate and sea-salty, manzanilla and fino sherries make olives, marcona almonds and serrano ham sing. Rich, nutty, and raisiny, amontillado and oloroso sherries make cheese and bacon-wrapped dates worthy of worship. Sweet sherries (cream, brown and PX) feel like liquid caramel in your mouth and should be served at room temperature with everything from foie gras to warm bread pudding. Is it getting hot in here?
It’s been eight months since Arch’s Frozen Yogurt on Emmet Street closed up shop. Now, the owner of another yogurt company is gearing up to reopen the space, but the cups of ice cream, cookie dough bites, and whipped cream will be replaced with noodle bowls, Chinese broccoli, and kimchi. Owner
Farm fun Charlottesville City Market is a Saturday morning tradition as throngs of locals flood the Water Street parking lot downtown to peruse meats, fruits, veggies and more. On Labor Day, Monday, September 1, those crowds have the chance to see where those yummy local treats come from and
The clock is ticking for C’Ville-ian Brewing Company. Business has been slower than expected during the summer months, and if things don’t turn around by the end of the year, owner Steve Gibbs said he’ll have to think hard about changing his model, looking for a buyer, or shutting down
A wise man once wrote: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” And that’s not a bad thing, especially when it comes to drinks. The classic mixed drinks, concocted in the American Golden Age of Cocktails (roughly […]
Take it to go The wait is over. Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie chef-owner Michael McCarthy is finally letting people into the newly-constructed space next to his North Garden cult favorite pizza joint, and it’s a completely different concept. Giddy’s Good Fortune Take Away, a counter-service spot serving
Movies make it easy. Their rating system provides a pretty good suggestion for the appropriate age for kids to see certain flicks. Real-life? Not so much. Which is why it can be challenging for parents who are trying to determine if their child is old enough to, say, walk alone to the school
On Fridays, we feature five foods finds selected by local chefs and personalities. Today’s picks come from Mitchell Beerens, co-owner of Lampo, the much-anticipated new restaurant to open this fall, with partners Loren Mendosa, Ian Redshaw, and Andrew Cole. Beerens has spent time in the
How meaningful is an invitation to cook at the James Beard House? The question has come up more than once since news broke that Parallel 38 had been invited to do so just months after opening. Given the prestige of the James Beard Foundation, the New York-based nonprofit that hands out the
Annie Eplee spent the first 18 days of her life in the NICU. After suffering in utero blood loss and a brain injury, Annie was diagnosed early on with epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and cognitive developmental delays. The second daughter born to Susan and Kelly Eplee, she “set a new normal” for her
On Fridays, we feature five food finds selected by local chefs and personalities. This week’s picks come from Dean Maupin, chef-owner of C&O restaurant. Maupin’s picks: 1) French Macarons from Albemarle Baking Company. “They are just so well done, as is everything they bake there! They
In May of this year, Mark Weber was diagnosed with cancer, and the prognosis was not good. Two and a half months and several rounds of chemotherapy later, he’s doing so well that he’s gearing up to open a new restaurant. In the middle of an intensive treatment regimen for a stage three
By the slice Everything’s bigger in…Virginia, apparently. As of last Monday, Charlottesville is home to the newest location of Benny’s, a southern Virginia restaurant chain that serves up slices of pizza roughly the size of a small child. According to local co-owner Nick Stancampiano,
It’s here. After a slow but productive spring and a gorgeous early summer, we’ve hit the gardening doldrums. The heat and humidity are stifling and it’s tempting to give up until September returns with cooler weather and a whole new harvest. But don’t give up yet! The tomatoes are just coming
Summer camp. The very words spawn olfactory hallucinations of mildew, and a paralyzing fear that someone will make me play tetherball. For although I went to a popular girls’ camp every summer ages 9-13, I hated summer camp. For the purposes of this piece, the camp in question will remain the
Park it in Belmont It’s no secret that the lack of convenient restaurant parking can make dining in Belmont a little less than desirable, especially on the weekends. Now, on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 6pm, drivers from Southern Star Valet are on hand outside tavola and The Local to
On Fridays we feature five food finds selected by local chefs or personalities. This week’s picks come from Doug McLeod, chef of Duner’s. McLeod’s picks: 1) Chicken and Waffles at Ace Biscuit & Barbecue. “One of my guilty pleasures, best Southern food in town.” 2) Dried Fried Eggplant
Pick your pasta, pick your sauce. It’s a simple concept, and one that Morocco native Karim Sellam hopes will bring more life to his Venetian-inspired restaurant in the Ix building. Introducing Al Dente Pasta Café, a classic Italian restaurant that’s open for lunch, dinner, coffee breaks, and
I’ve done this several times, all with the same result. I hand a patron a translucent, orange-tinged beverage. They look at it curiously and shrug, and I wait for them to take their first sip. First their face wrinkles in confusion. Then there is cautious enjoyment. Then, even more intense
Charlottesville food is hot. In the last year alone, our area’s food has won praise from national media outlets dozens of times, culminating with a recent nod in Wine Enthusiast as one of “America’s five new foodie cities.” For one of our restaurants, though, national attention is nothing new.