Sherry Club - Pata Negra
Have you ever kept an open bottle of wine in the cupboard for weeks, then gone on to glug the miserable vinegary mess? Ever poured the dregs of one wine glass into the glass of another, regardless of whether its the same type?
No, of course you haven’t, none of us have, and don’t let anyone tell you any different, yeah?
Crimes are committed against wines every day, and none have been more victimised than poor old sherry. Do you own a bottle of sherry? If so, how long have you had it, and where do you store it? If the answers are 3+ years and in the back of a cupboard respectively; you're doing it wrong!
We were told as much by David from Harveys - Bristol’s very own historic sherry importer and host of the inaugural Sherry Club at Pata Negra (heard of Harveys Bristol Cream? Turns out that ye olde Bristolians used to quaff so much of the stuff that it was referred to as ‘Bristol milk’, with one wit then saying that Harveys in that case was ‘Bristol Cream’. We’re here to educate AND entertain, people).
Lest we forget - sherry is a wine, albeit a fortified one (Editor’s note: Fortified? Like a castle?!), and needs to be treated accordingly. Once opened, treat it with respect and chuck it in the fridge, or drink the bottle in one session (perhaps with friends) like a civilised human being.
Eagle Eye Sherry
Now that we had been informed of our unanimous ignorance and plied with a tasty welcome drink (Amontillado sherry over ice with a cheeky twist of orange peel), olives & toasted almonds, it was time to get the tasting underway.
Sherry #1 - Fino
The purist’s tipple - fino sherry is such a delicate taste that the Spaniard’s fling the cork over their shoulder when they open a bottle, to ensure that not a drop of the unblemished blend is wasted (ie. shoved in your nan’s cupboard until Christmas Eve). Very dry, and it went particularly well with the fatty jamon we were all snacking on (more about that later).
Sherry #2 - Oloroso
I really liked this one - a bit darker, slightly richer and easier to drink than the fino. I think this is would be the most familiar to occasional sherry drinkers.
Sherry #3 - Harveys Pedro Ximenéz VORS
This sherry has been aged for over 30 years and felt like a different creature altogether from the others we had tried. Syrupy, sweet and tasting of raisins and figs, this could convert even the most determined sherry dodger.
Bonus treat! Sherry & ice cream - because you don’t just have to drink sherry - you can pour it over vanilla ice cream for a decadent treat. Yumtastic.
If you’ve ever eaten Iberico pork, you’ll know why the Spanish are nothing short of obsessed with the stuff - and so they should be, it’s delicious. Pata Negra is even named after the black-hoofed leg that the unctuous fatty meat comes from, dontcha know.
We were given a couple of generous platefuls of the stuff, and although I could have done with some bread to fill me up a bit more, the saltiness of the meat (aged 36 months) went really well with all of the drinks we tasted, and added to the extravagance of the evening.
I genuinely left with a new-found admiration for sherry - not only in terms of the variety that I was previously unaware of, but also the craft that goes into making it.
As pointed out by David, due to the lesser appeal of sherry to the masses, it is also a damn sight cheaper than any other alcoholic beverage when you consider the quality of some blends. Plus, it plays a part in Bristol’s heritage, and that’s nice, isn’t it?
Pata Negra have written a handy guide which extols the virtues of this underrated drink, but if you don’t believe me or them, why not count out £17.50’s worth of change from the sofa and pop along to the next Sherry Club to decide for yourself?
And if you’re interested in learning a bit more about Harvey’s, you can visit their Cellars too!