This week I wanted to talk about Manzanilla (a bone-dry, white style of sherry from Sanlúcar de Barrameda on the Atlantic coast of Andalucia) because I’ve been drinking quite a bit of it lately. I was inspired by something I read that Jancis Robinson had said, about how a little glass of this will wake up your tastebuds a treat especially if you’ve had a week of non-stop eating and drinking. She was prepping people for the onslaught of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was wondering how to survive a press trip intent on killing me with kindness. Either way, it's something I’ve always drunk with tapas when in Andalucia and tend to forget about it in a region that prefers cava. Thus reminded I put it to the test and it works. In fact—and don’t say this out loud—it works a whole lot better than cava.
There’s something about the silky texture of Manzanilla combined with a crisp acidity that really gets your tastebuds working. Try swirling a little around in your mouth and the juices start flowing. That saltiness that comes from the Atlantic air, and the softness that results from the traditional Solera—the method of aging sherry—of the South, the same that give it a pale peach colour and the rich texture that I mentioned before, make it to my mind pretty much the perfect aperitif to a huge sit-down dinner, especially if you’re the one who cooked it.
Serve it very cold and make sure it’s very fresh i.e. four months or less since bottling if you can. There’s a bottling date stamped on the back. Serve it with an effortless spread of toasted Marcona almonds, olives and caperberries; a little dish of boquerones and anchovies; or slices of Manchego drizzled with olive oil and jamón and that’s your first course covered.