International Sherry Week 2021

Date: 10 November, 2021 / Author: Ben Howkins

Whoever would have thought that sherry’s change in fortune would come about due to the onset of a global pandemic? True, the lure of Andalucía has always been strong. True, the quality of sherry – especially the dry sherries – has never been higher. True, the sherry producers have been gallantly trying to catch our attention for decades. But the coronavirus pandemic has caused us all to rethink our drinking habits. The long-lasting nature of sherry – and its out-and-out convenience – has proved a real bonus. Not only does a bottle of fino, manzanilla, amontillado, oloroso or palo cortado stay so wonderfully fresh for many days or weeks after the cork has been pulled at home, but the sheer bone-dryness of these fine wines makes them utterly brilliant as aperitifs. Move over champagne!

And so to the eighth International Sherry Week, which once again successfully highlights all the good and the great attributes of this flamenco-driven, albariza-grown, very English – sorry, very British – aperitif and original mixer. Indeed, it gives us good reason to celebrate our favourite sherry – either at home or away.

I was recently a guest at the 36th investiture dinner of the influential Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino at the Savoy in London. It was wonderful to see so many old and new friends all united in this conversation-enlightened universe of sherry and wines from Spain. Many happy exchanges during the evening, led, as they will, to a rediscovery… My current favourite tipple, Williams & Humbert’s old favourite ‘Dos Cortados’, was a great treat way back when, but today’s offering, a 20-year-old Palo Cortado (available at Waitrose), is just stunning. It takes you right back to the cathedral-like bodega in Jerez. Its aroma lasts forever and, sip-by-sip, you are transported to heaven via Andalucía.

Some authors are fortunate enough to have good editors. All of us who are published under the Académie du Vin Library banner, are incredibly fortunate to have a great editor in Susan Keevil. My book Sherry, Maligned, Misunderstood, Magnificent! is being reprinted as you read this. Susan’s collaboration with art director Tim Foster has led to a new look that I’m even prouder to share – you’ll see why when Tim’s new front cover is revealed next month…