One of the most festive wine tastings to attend is a tapas party. Tapas are little bites that started out as a cover to keep the flies out of a glass of sherry. Tapas bars are very popular in Spain and have quickly picked up favor in the U.S.
My friend Alan loves sherry. He recently hosted a sherry tasting for a bunch of friends with 30 bottles of eight different types of sherry. And everyone brought tapas to enjoy with the little sips.
Many think sweet when the word sherry is mentioned. But there are so many more styles! The drier Manzanilla and Fino are definitely not sweet. Amontillado and Oloroso can be dry or sweet; Cream is always sweet but even sweeter is the Pedro Ximénez, or PX, which is the color and weight of motor oil and tastes of liquid brown sugar, nuts and dried fruits.
My favorite sherry of the day paired wonderfully with Paella, Spain’s most famous saffron, rice and seafood extravaganza. Paella is usually prepared in a wide, shallow pan and cooked over an outdoor fire. The sherry was Barbadillo Obispo Gason Palo Cortado, a fabulous and a perfect match with the Paella.
Bodegas Barbadillo was founded almost 200 years ago. Palo Cortado is a rare sherry. Like most sherries, it’s made from the Palomino grape. Palo Cortado begins life as a Manzanilla, developing the flor and set aside for its quality.
Then something happens on its way to becoming an Amontillado: it loses its flor in the American oak barrels. Flor is the protective bacteria that forms a film on top of the wine and protects it from oxidizing. Once the flor disappears, the wine is fortified.
After 30 years in barrel, the wines develop a dark amber color along with the rich, nutty aromas and flavors that are the hallmarks of Palo Cortado. Coffee bean, burnt matchstick, toffee caramel and toasted walnut are other flavors you can find in this sherry. It’s very dry, with lots of richness and great balance.
Here’s a couple tapas dishes that pair perfect with sherry:
Seasoned Carrots — Best served with a Fino like the Hartley & Gibson Dry Fino
2 pounds carrots
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp. Oregano
¾ tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp. Cilantro
¼ tsp Red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Salt
1 ½ tbsp Sherry vinegar
½ cup Olive oil
2 tsp chopped Parsley
Peel and slice carrots into 1-inch rounds. Boil 8 to 10 minutes in salted water until tender. Meanwhile, throw the rest of the herbs into a food processorfor a minte and add vinegar to make a paste. Add oil in a thin stream to emulsify. Mix with the carrots. Sprinkle with parsley. Chill for a couple of hours and serve at room temperature.
Stuffed mushrooms — Best served with Lustau Los Arcos Dry Amontillado
18 large mushrooms
½ cup almonds
¼ cup bread crumbs
½ pound ground pork
1 tsp orange zest
6 tbsp dry amontillado
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Toast almonds for about 12
minutes. In a processor, chop the almonds, then the stems; add the
bread crumbs, pork, orange zest, and sherry. Salt and pepper to
taste. Stuff the caps.
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add caps filling side down. Sauté over medium low until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Place on an oiled baking sheet filling side up. Bake minutes and serve.
*Recipes are from the Spanish Table by Marimar Torres.