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?
Health & Wellness Working Woods Walk Saturday, October 21 Hike through Montpelier Demonstration Forest to learn about forest conservation and its many perks, today and historically. $5, 2-4 pm. James Madison’s Montpelier, 11350 Constitution Hwy., Montpelier Station. (540) 672-2728. Family
I’m suspicious right away. His dilated pupils don’t seem focused on anything in particular, and his usually chipper demeanor has been replaced with a vacant haze unmoored from time and space. His head lists to one side before jerking back to center, like a student fighting to stay awake in a
As a kid, Chris Humphrey spent a lot of time at his grandmother’s home on Belmont Avenue. The small house was the hub for the entire family—there was never fewer than 15 people there at a time, Humphrey remembers—and his grandmother was always cooking for everyone: beef stew, onion gravy, mac
FAMILY Farm Animal Day Saturday, October 14 The Saunders Brothers Farm Market hosts a day on the farm featuring horses, cows, sheep, goats, chickens and more. Make sure to keep an eye out for baby animals! Free admission, 9am-5pm. Saunders Brothers Farm Market, 2717 Tye Brook Hwy., Piney River.
“Cooking is a young person’s game.” I’ve heard it more than once. As chefs grow older, the daily grind leaves many looking to continue their careers outside a restaurant kitchen. Never easy, the transition can be especially tough for chef-owners, who must entrust someone else at the helm.
FAMILY Fall Fiber Festival Saturday, October 7, and Sunday, October 8 Bring the whole family for craft workshops, sheep dog trials, Celtic music and dancers and more at this 30th annual festival. Adults $5, children 16 and under free, 10am-5pm Saturday; 10am-4pm Sunday. James Madison’s
When Hassan Kaisoum was 11 years old, he lost both of his parents. Nearly homeless and roaming the streets of Morocco, someone handed him an eggplant, which he put on the stove and promptly burned. But he was hungry, so he sprinkled some vinegar on the scorched eggplant and ate it anyway—it
Although Blue Moon Diner is closed during construction of 600 West Main, the six-story mixed-use building going up behind the restaurant, that hasn’t stopped owner Laura Galgano from serving her customers. “I am a social being, and quite simply, [I] want to know what folks are up to, how their
As an avid mountain biker, Dave Stackhouse immediately started looking for like-minded riders when he relocated from Maine to Charlottesville in 2007. The search quickly led the 68-year-old veteran mountain biker to what was then a relatively new area organization, the Charlottesville Area
FAMILY Family fun hike Friday, September 29 Local high schooler and wilderness guide Char Tomlinson leads a seasonal hike that highlights native plant and animal life. Pay what you will, 12:30-1:30pm. Wildrock, 6700 Blackwells Hollow Rd., Crozet. RSVP to 823-5100. NONPROFIT Rivanna
Just in time for Halloween, The Candy Store has opened at 114 Fourth St. SE (the space that formerly housed O’Suzan-nah, which moved to 320 E. Main St., next to Timberlake’s Drug Store and Soda Fountain), and the slightly sour sugary aroma is palpable even from the doorstep. The Candy Store,
High school student-athletes aren’t just working to be the best at their sports; they’re also juggling classes and college applications at the same time. That takes dedication, talent and lucky pre-game meals. We talked with some of the Charlottesville area’s best and brightest student-athletes
Bottoms up, y’all. It’s Virginia Spirits Month here in the commonwealth, sponsored by the Virginia Distillers Association and meant to spotlight Virginia-made spirits. Many local bartenders do so all year ’round, but there are a few special cocktails this month that are worth sidling up to the
From hookworm to heartworm, our pets can shelter no shortage of creepy crawly horrors. But few are as renowned as the tapeworm. The mere mention conjures images of people wasting away as the parasite secretly steals their lunch. Indeed, some have even tried harnessing tapeworm in a desperate
FAMILY Youth Film Festival Friday, September 15 The 16th annual Light House Studio Youth Film Festival showcases movies from local students before they hit the 2018 film circuit. $15-80, 6pm. The Paramount Theater, 215 E. Main St., Downtown Mall. 293-6992. NONPROFIT Salvation Army telethon
Family LGBTQ Youth Pride picnic Saturday, September 9 The third annual LGBTQ Youth Pride Picnic, part of the Cville Pride Festival, offers food, resources and games for teens. Families of youth and LGBTQ parents are welcome. Free, 3-7pm. Washington Park, 1001 Preston Ave. cvillepride.org/ 2017-
There’s always something new to learn about food, and for the past 11 years, the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello has been one of the best ways to learn a lot about the history of what we eat in a little bit of time. On Saturday, chefs, farmers, culinary historians, purveyors and foodies
By C. Simon Davidson, Alexa Nash and Erin O’Hare Bellair Market’s Jefferson sandwich—maple turkey, cranberry relish, cheddar cheese, lettuce and herb mayonnaise layered between two slices of pillowy French bread—is a lunch staple for many in town. But for Charlottesville native Mason
Fifth Street Station is serving up another helping of restaurants, which includes a second location for a Corner favorite, and a Manassas-based traditional Thai restaurant. Jersey Mike’s Subs: Grab a submarine sandwich from the New Jersey-bred chain at one of the newest additions to its
FAMILY Beauty and the Beast Sunday, September 3 Bring a chair or blanket to this movie on the green, and watch the sunset and a Disney classic. Free, 8:30-10:30pm. Boar’s Head Resort, 200 Ednam Dr. (855) 615-7587. NONPROFIT Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler Saturday, September 2 Help