Today’s words come to us from . . . well, no one is really sure exactly who wrote these words. But, they appear in a 1619 publication called Pasquils Palinodia, and His Progresse to the Taverne: Where, After the Survey of the Sellar, You are Presented with a Pleasant Pynte of Poeticall Sherry.
Regardless, the author could have benefited from a more ruthless title editor.
At any rate, I rather enjoyed these words, as I’ve been completely immersed in sherry study the past couple of weeks for my latest WSET Diploma class, which is on fortified wines.
The first sherry I ever tried was (somehow fittingly) at a sherry bar called La Venencia in Madrid. La Venencia was a famous haunt of Hemingway, so naturally, I had to visit. It’s kind of like stepping into a 1930s time capsule, which incidentally, is probably the last time anyone dusted anything in there. It’s part of the charm. Having absolutely zero experience with sherry back then, I chose one at random. A very pale colored glass of wine arrived, along with a plate of bright green olives that I was sure would glow in the dark, given the opportunity.
And when I took that first sip of sherry, I was pretty sure the waiter was playing a well-executed game of let’s mess with the tourists. There’s something wrong with this wine. Is it supposed to taste like angry olive water??
The short answer is yes.
So here’s the thing about sherry. You can’t expect it to taste like chardonnay. If you do, prepare to have your palate violated. Sherry is a thinking wine — you have to be patient with it. The more sherry I drink, the more I like it. It’s not just for brooding authors or blue-haired old ladies. Sherry offers a huge range of styles — from bone-sucking dry finos to diabetes-inducing sweet Pedro Ximenez (PX). There’s a sherry for everyone. I’m partial to the dark and nutty dry Olorosos, myself.
Sherry is under-appreciated, and perhaps even more important, under-valued (i.e., it’s cheap — go get some).
Btw, for the martini lovers of the world . . . try substituting dry fino sherry for dry vermouth. You can thank me later.