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Maybe you’ve heard of Sherry but you probably don’t know it that well or have never thought of trying it. “Sherry is difficult to pair with food”, “Sherry is for grannies” or “Sherry is very alcoholic”.

Is that what Sherry is all about?

The Fino

Sherry, one of the most underappreciated wine is a fortified wine made in the far south of Spain, where extreme summer heat is countered by cooling breezes from the Atlantic. This area, known as the Andalusian triangle is formed by three towns namely Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria

Image source: Sherry Notes

There are three white grapes variety that are used for the production of Sherry. The Palomino is the most dominant grape in the region while Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez are mainly used for sweetening purposes.

The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture suggests that consuming moderate amount of sherry can lower cholesterol levels. Researchers claim that the Palomino grapes are responsible for sherry’s heart-healthy benefits.

Bodegas Gutierrez Colosia

Located on the banks of Guatalete River, Bodegas Gutierrez Colosia is a Sherry winery established since 1838. It operated as an ‘almacenista’, a bodega that produces wine for other major Sherry Houses such as Williams & Humbert, Osbrone, Lustau and Gonzalez Byass among others.

Bodega Gutierrez Colosia

The wine cellars are designed in an architectural style know as “Nave Cathedral“, a cathedral like warehouse with significant heights and arcs to encourage better exposure of the wines to the climate of the region.

In 1997, owner and winemaker Juan Carlos Gutierrez started bottling wines under his own name, emphasizing on quality over quantity.

To get an inside view of the life in a bodega, we spoke to Carmen Gutierrez, daughter of Juan Carlos Gutierrez.

Carmen Gutierrez

FR: What is it like to grow up and run a family Bodega business?
CG: Well, I really think that Sherry wine business is probably one of the most beautiful businesses in the world. You can grow in many aspects and feel that you are doing something authentic. A family business is a double-edge sword. You have to keep proving to people that you deserve it and of course, sometimes it’s hard to work with your parents.

FR: Can you share with us something memorable or interesting that you came across while learning the art of aging wine?
CG: I have many stories to share! I remember a group of Italian sommeliers that came to the winery. They were asking many questions about sherry and one asked how do we control the Flor (Flor yeast is a microorganism that lives on top of the wine and transform it during biological aging). My father answered very seriously that we have a special system from the NASA to deal with it. All of them were surprised and took a dozens of photos while we were walking to the said “equipment”. Then, my father showed them an old small mirror and a vintage lantern. We opened the cask cork, place the small mirror on top and pointed it with the light of the lantern, “there is the flor!” my father said. Everybody broke out laughing. They really believed that we had a NASA system for that!

FR: Sherry sales have been declining for the past 10-15 years. As the next generation, how do you see the future of the sherry industry?
CG: Our situation is different. We decided to stop selling our wines to big companies and started to export in 1996. Since then, our sales have been increasing. In any case, the Sherry industry sales are growing in the past years.

FR: It is said that sherry is not as popular as other type of wines among younger people. What are your thoughts on this?
CG: I’ve met plenty of young sherry lovers and we have many tourists with good attitude. I don’t think it is a question of age but more of personality.

FR: How would you describe the personality of a Sherry lover?
CG: If you are a foodie who appreciates the finer things, enjoys experimenting or is adventurous with your pairings, you are a future Sherry lover.

FR: What type of sherry would you recommend to first-time Sherry drinkers?
CG: That’s a difficult question. We have a big range of Sherries (from dry to very sweet). I would recommend first timers to have a good Fino from the town of El Puerto. With the sea influence, it is dry, fresh and delicate. Best to serve it chilled in a regular white wine or Chardonnay glass. You can also open the bottle up to let it express its nuances.

FR: Sherry has a somewhat misunderstood reputation. Some people think that its hard to pair Sherry with food. What are your thoughts on this?
CG: This is our most important job to do. I always say that the future of Sherry depends on education. The best restaurants in the world include Sherry on their pairing menu. There are also tons of articles around the world saying that Sherry is the most versatile wine to pair with different cuisines and food. It’s a game, so play!

FR: It is said that Sherry is not as popular as other type of wines among younger people. What are your thoughts on this?
CG: I’ve met plenty of young sherry lovers and we have many tourists with good attitude. I don’t think it is a question of age but more of personality.

FR: How would you describe the personality of a Sherry lover?
CG: If you are a foodie who appreciates the finer things, enjoys experimenting or is adventurous with your pairings, you are a future Sherry lover.

FR: What type of sherry would you recommend to first-time Sherry drinkers?
CG: That’s a difficult question. We have a big range of Sherries (from dry to very sweet). I would recommend first timers to have a good Fino from the town of El Puerto. With the sea influence, it is dry, fresh and delicate. Best to serve it chilled in a regular white wine or Chardonnay glass. You can also open the bottle up to let it express its nuances.

FR: Sherry has a somewhat misunderstood reputation. Some people think that its hard to pair Sherry with food. What are your thoughts on this?
CG: This is our most important job to do. I always say that the future of Sherry depends on education. The best restaurants in the world include Sherry on their pairing menu. There are also tons of articles around the world saying that Sherry is the most versatile wine to pair with different cuisines and food. It’s a game, so play!

Shellfish and seaweed croquettes on top of plancton mayonnaise

FR: What is a good pairing?
CG: I have my own restaurant where there’s a cart that includes Sherry pairing ideas. Fino goes really well with seafood and one of my restaurant’s favourite is to pair it with shellfish and seaweed croquettes on top of plancton mayonnaise.

Four Things You Need To Know About Sherry Pairing

1. The Fino (the driest style of Sherry) is generally made from Palomino grapes grown in Albariza soil. Finos usually contain 15% alcohol, are best served chilled and goes well with savoury snacks, cured olives and fried seafood.

2. The Amontillado is darker than the Fino but lighter than the Oloroso, pairs well with food that doesn’t have a wine to go with such as artichoke, sparrow, complex fishes and mushroom.

3. The Oloroso contains 18% alcohol and can be sweet or dry depending if the wine is made strictly from Palomino grapes (dry) or contains Moscatel (sweet). It goes well with food with intense flavours such as stews or cured cheeses.

4. Pedro Ximenez is made from grapes of the same name which then undergo a process of “sunning” where the grapes are dried into raisins. It is the sweetest of all Sherry wines and pairs well with chocolates, ice creams, spicy Indian and Mexican food.

Join the #SherryRevolution

If you fit the profile of a sherry lover or would love to learn more about one of the sexiest wines in the world, visit the Bodegas Gutierrez Colosia for an intimate sherry tour (English guided tours are available as well).

On the tour, you will learn first-hand about sherry’s production process and the wide variety of sherry wines. You will also get to taste six different sherry wines ranging from the bright straw yellow Fino to the dark ebony colored Pedro Ximenez and a sample of “Amerigo Vespuccibrandy that has aged for more than 10 years.

The tour is ranked number seven out of the 36 things to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria by Trip Advisor and has received excellent reviews from visitors all around the world. And the best part of all, the one-hour tour only cost about $11.00 per person! Click here to make a reservation.

Bodegas Gutierrez Colosia
Address:
Av. Bajamar, 40, 11500, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz, Spain
Contact number: +34 956 85 28 52
Links: Website / Facebook Page / Twitter / Trip Advisor

Images courtesy of Carmen Guttierez 

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