Sherry Sips + Bits

sherryweek

It’s International Sherry Week and it could not have come at a more perfect time! With all of the emotions I’ve been processing from the political climate in the US, I’ve needed these days to celebrate something I love.

This year, I am excited to co-host of one of many sherry-focused events in Portland, Oregon! As a recent Certified Sherry Educator, I’m so excited to guide guests through the styles and story of each sherry. Saturday November 12th, I will be at Pairings Portland Wine Shop from 3-6pm. Come taste 6 sherries with 6 pairings that POP!

Sherry may be a bit intense for someone tasting it for the first time. Sherry Sips & Bits will be a simple display of “POP—The Power of Pairings”. The bits purpose is to alter your experience of the beverage you’ve just tasted. Sometimes POP can be for the worse or it doesn’t change the experience at all. Most often POP is an interesting change that will both enhance the sherry and the food. This experience may not make you a sherry lover overnight. The key is to come try something new and have FUN!

WHEN: Saturday November 12 between 3-6pm. Come when you can.

WHERE: Pairings Portland Wine Shop – 455 NE 24TH AVE. PORTLAND, OR 97232

COST: $20

Can’t make it to my event? No problem! You might see me at one of the many happenings around Portland! Be sure to try and go to at least one of them before the end of the week!

sherry-flight

Sharing the Sherry Love

PCA Sherry EventThis time of year has sherry on the radar, especially with the upcoming Sherryfest in New York City. It only seems fitting that I had a little sherry celebration of my own here in Portland, Oregon. PCA Sherry Event

The Portland Culinary Alliance provided an amazing opportunity for me to present my first sherry tasting at Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery. The evening would not have been a success without the support and partnership of Sasha Davies. She and her team pulled out all the stops from setting up the room, to serving the guests, to providing the perfect pairings for each wine.

Sasha and I chose to showcase sherry as a wine for any style of food, not just tapas! The rule of thumb I was taught is: if it swims – pair with Fino or Manzanilla; if it flies – pair with Amontillado or Palo Cortado; if it runs – pair with Oloroso.

WE DID IT! PCA Sherry Event

For a Tuesday night after fighting rush-hour traffic, guests were greeted with a glass of sparkling wine to help unwind. It’s an easy transition for those who may not be familiar with sherry. Once seated, the sherry and food were served in groups of two while I told them a story; beginning, middle and end.

First they were served Inocente Fino from Valdespino paired with scallop crudo. I chose this Fino because not only do I love products from Grupo Estevez, but I love that this Fino has been aged for ten years under flor. Not only is it a challenge to sustain the flor yeast cap for so many years, but it also gives the wine a rich complexity of flavor and color unlike any other fino. The scallop crudo had an amazing brightness that was not only enhanced by the Fino, but brought out the characteristics of the wine in return.

Along side the Fino, guests were served La Garrocha Amontillado from Bodegas Grant paired with a chicken drumette with dates, olives and capers. This was my first Amontillado I fell in love with. I love it even more after having visited Bodegas Grant back in May. They are amazing people making amazing sherry! (I’ll tell you all about it soon, I promise!)

For the middle of the progression, guests were served Palo Cortado Viejo C.P. from Valdespino with pan seared artichokes in sherry vinegar, lemon and thyme. Sherry is one of the best wines for pairing with the most difficult dishes, like artichokes. This was the first Palo Cortado introduced to me and it is my favorite sherry style. Palo Cortado is considered the “rebel” and known for it’s mysterious rarity because it isn’t an Amontillado or an Oloroso, but somewhere in between. I have since tasted several Palo Cortados from other wine makers, but I’ll never forget my first.

For this evening, we did not have a dry Oloroso, but decided to serve a sweetened Oloroso Cream style before transitioning into dessert. Guests were served East India Solera from Lustau with prosciutto and basil wrapped figs. I’ve always loved the story of how its name refers the British trading company and is made mimicking the 17th century trade ships, maturing the blended wine in a hotter and more humid area of the bodega.

To conclude the evening, guests were served Moscatel Pasas from Bodegas César Florido paired with Turkish apricots stuffed with a walnut on mascarpone and crushed pistachios. As well as Pedro Ximenez from El Maestro Sierra with a lovely slice of Pleinvent Fermier Cheese. I wish I had the chance to visit César Florido, but did not get over to Chipiona where all Moscatel styles are made. I did however receive the invitation to visit El Maestro Sierra. This is a very special bodega I will tell you all about later. I’ll simply say they make amazing sherry using only traditional methods!

I DID IT!

This evening was so special for me! My audience was a perfect balance between supportive PCA members, friends and family. I was honored to have local support from Thirdwave Coffee Tours and Conserva. My greatest joy was having my parents and husband there to support me. The fact that my father (a frugal, retired Marine who would prefer a meal at the Village Inn) came across town during rush hour and smiled the entire night meant the world to me! Portland is full of good people who support those living out their dreams!

It could not have gone any better for my FIRST event. The many smiles,  praises and even a couple critiques I received by the end of the evening only further confirm I’m exactly where I need to be on this journey!

#drinkmoresherry

#drinkmoresherry

Living Big Drinking Sherry

Mary Cecchini There’s nothing quite like meeting a kindred spirit for happy hour. You forget that you haven’t known each other long when you both share a love of living life to its fullest. Don’t let her petit frame fool you – Mary Cecchini is full of life and fulfilling her big dreams! I was first introduced to Mary at the launch party for her new travel business Living Big. It is specifically designed for female travelers who desire a pre-planned adventure with small groups of likeminded women. A week later, I happily accepted her invitation to grab a tapa at Bar Vivant in East Portland.

Mary plans to lead a trip to Spain at the end of August, which includes a visit to wine country in Rioja. I was surprised when I asked if she’ll go to the Sherry Triangle, she admitted she wasn’t sure she ever tasted sherry. (To be honest, I really should not have been surprised. Unfortunately, for being a drinking culture, Portland, Oregon has yet to catch the sherry fever.)

As we talked about our mutual love for Spain, Bar Vivant was perfect for our meeting. It has a wonderful Tuesday happy hour offering a free tapa with a purchase of a drink. I suggested we get a sherry flight and a couple tapas. Whether I realized it or not, I was about to give my first guided sherry tasting.

Until this moment, I had been too nervous to consider leading a sherry tasting because I didn’t want to make any mistakes. Yet, there I was unplanned and unrehearsed, endlessly talking about my passion for sherry!

Happy Hour Sherry Flight

I chose a flight of three of my favorites: a La Guita Manzanilla, La Garrocha Amontillado and Sangre y Trabajadero Oloroso along with a Parisian Montadito of prosciutto and brie and of course Tortilla Española topped with a spicy tomato sauce and eggless mayo. Mary tasted and I talked, making sure to throw her napkins on the floor to follow Bar Vivant tradition. Throw napkins on the floorI think she likes it

Parisian Montadito + Tortilla Española with Manzanilla, Amontillado + Oloroso

Parisian Montadito + Tortilla Española with Manzanilla, Amontillado + Oloroso

I first had Mary taste each sherry starting with the Manzanilla, then the Amontillado and finally the Oloroso. She would describe the nuances she could pick up from each one. For the Manzanilla, she said there was something almost fishy. With the Amontillado, she could smell the toffee notes. The Oloroso she expected to be sweeter. She said the smell reminded her of flavored coffee. Then I asked her to do it again, this time eating the tapas first. I loved watching her reaction as the sherry flavors enhanced. We were both amazed how the spicy tomato sauce on the tortilla really balanced out with the Oloroso.

Hands-on learning is the best! She was full of great questions and I was relieved that I could answer them! I still need to learn more, but she assured me she had an amazing time learning so much in only a couple hours. I shared with Mary my dreams to teach more friends in Portland to do exactly what she and I were doing – having a casual happy hour learning about sherry and become familiar with what’s available around town. I told her my daydream to someday take people with me to visit bodegas in Spain and return sherry experts. Someday.

If Mary can do it, why can’t I?Seana Yee