Five weeks on from Christmas I’m still left with several partially completed bottles of sherry. So just to help clear away a space on the front room mantelpiece I finished off the contents of the Amontillado and sloshed the sweet into a trifle. Their flavours still hit the spot but they didn’t seem quite as fresh as they were when first opened.
Sherry is a fortified wine, as is Port the other commonly purchased Christmas special. Brandy, or a cheaper neutral spirit, is used to fortify (increase) the wines natural alcohol levels, and so prolong their keeping qualities. Fortified, they take much longer to succumb to oxidation, but if left for long enough any bottle leftovers start to taste of cardboard and then eventually turn into vinegar.
So avoid turning your expensive half-consumed bottles into sherry vinegar by getting rid of any excess air in the bottle, either use a hand pump air extractor (the big brand Vacuvin sells for around six quid from wine shops and supermarkets) or pour the remaining fortified wine into a rinsed out half-bottle. Being in a smaller bottle should mean there is now little or no air-space under the shoved in cork.
But if your bottles are too far gone, get in some more and try these currently available sherries.
PG Wine Reviews
Mansion House Cream
The word ‘sherry’ does not appear anywhere on the label but the bottle styling is very similar to a Pale Cream Sherry. It is British not Spanish (meaning the underlying wine is made here using imported grape concentrate), it is fortified and it tastes rather like sherry, but it doesn’t quite pack the finesse of the real stuff that costs £2 more a bottle. Good for trifles.
Croft Original Pale Cream Sherry
£9 Sainsbury’s, Tesco £9, £10.50 Asda
A blend of half dry Fino and half semi-sweet Cream sherry, Pale Cream exhibits both Fino marzipan nuttiness and the light brown sugar flavours of Cream sherry. Serve chilled like a white wine and enjoy as an aperitif.
Delicado Pedro Ximenez
£14.99 (50cl bottle) Waitrose
Pedro Ximenez, often shortened to PX on the label, is the sweetest category of sherry. Flavours of liquid treacle, figs and raisins. Dense and sweet, a classic.
Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
£8 Asda, £10 Sainsbury’s, £10 Tesco
Sweeter than Pale Cream but drier than PX, Cream Sherry is a blend of the driest Fino and the sweeter Amontillado, Oloroso and PX sherry styles. The contents of Harveys’ blue bottlings have been a firm favourite with us Brits for years, but its dried cherry, raisin and brown sugar flavours still hit the spot.
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© Paula Goddard 2015 www.paulagoddard.com