Fino Sherry is a disgusting wine…at least by the time we get through with it. There the poor dusty bottle sits half-full on the back bar next to the Ports and Cream Sherry going bad as fast as it can.
It is rare to find a restaurant that properly serves and stores Fino and Manzanilla Sherry (the same thing from slightly different areas). This is a real sin as, when fresh and cold, these are among the finest aperitif wines on the planet and one of the most versatile white wines made, matching with an incredible array of dishes and, in fact, is the best match out there for Sushi.
The Sherry industry, importers and distributors must take the blame for this “wholesale” destruction of one of the world’s great white wines. Obviously none of these organisations gives a hoot if Sherry is served properly as long as someone buys it. The restaurants must also take part of the rap as serving warm, oxidized (Fino is not an oxidised style of Sherry like Amontillado and Oloroso) Fino to customers giving them good money is treating their customers poorly. Fino/Manzanilla Sherry should be served just like any other white wine they are serving by the glass. Certainly this is not too complicated of a concept for them to grasp. Can you imagine the reaction a restaurant would get if they served warm pinot grigio by the glass? Also, speaking of glasses, please stop serving fine Sherry in those crappy little liqueur glasses. You don’t have to invest in proper Sherry glasses for Fino, as your Champagne flutes will work perfectly.
Fino and Manzanilla are the most delicate of wines. They are never better than the first day they are bottled and decline in freshness every day after that. These are wines that should be consumed within six months of bottling and should be served chilled to enhance their beautiful fruit, mineral and nut flavors. The bottles should be consumed as soon as possible after opening, unless you drink Sherry very quickly, half-bottles or 500 ml. bottles are highly recommended.
There is one hero out there trying to save Fino from this awful fate. Steven Metzler at Classical Wines from Spain (http://www.classicalwines.com/) is almost a lone voice trying to educate the American trade and consumers on how to enjoy fine Sherry. He has good reason to do so as he is the importer of perhaps the greatest Manzanilla Sherry, Bodegas Hildalgo La Gitana Manzanilla, a beautiful wine that is worth all his efforts to protect. Steven imports this great wine only in 500 ml. bottles to promote freshness and carefully controls his distributors inventories to make sure they don’t offer wine past its prime. To understand the glories of this style of wine at its best, enjoy a chilled bottle of La Gitana with the freshest oysters you can find. There will be no going back.
Most people say they don’t like Sherry because their experience is limited to wine destroyed by neglect. This is like deciding you don’t like Burgundy when the only bottle you have tasted spent the last week in the trunk of a car in Arizona in August.
So I have a new cause for all of you. Save a bottle of Fino Sherry this week. Confront your bartender and get those bottles in the cooler!