Why it’s time to embrace Manzanilla Sherry
Eatable drinks editor Matty Hirsch on the very approachable apéritif.
The advent of scorching summer days is almost always accompanied by an inevitable thirst for dry white wine. Something that begs to be drunk straight from the fridge, that makes you smack your lips in pleasure and exhale with gratitude. Something that’s primed for palate sharpening, that pairs perfectly with green olives, roasted nuts, jamón or tinned fish.
Countless white wines satisfy these criteria, but there’s one that ticks the boxes far more emphatically than others. It happens to be a fortified wine, a light and dry-as-a-desert Sherry called Manzanilla, which hails from the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the south of Spain. Much like the more widely recognised Fino style, Manzanilla is made from palomino grapes and matured under a veil of yeast known as ‘flor’, which protects the wine from oxygen and imparts a trademark set of complex aromas and flavours: apples, resting dough, Marcona almonds.
What distinguishes Manzanilla is the unmistakable influence of the Atlantic – the high humidity and sea breeze adding briny, saline characters to the fold, as well as hints of dried flowers (‘manzanilla’ is the Spanish word for ‘chamomile’). It’s an optimal and approachable apéritif, one that turns some of the many preconceived notions about Sherry – that it’s creamy, sweet, old fashioned – directly on their head.
Three to try
An affordable introduction to the style that doesn’t compromise character. Dry, zesty and savoury.
$16.50 for 375ml, Annandale Cellars
A standout from one of the region’s most forward-thinking producers, bottled with minimal filtration. Intense and alive.
$29.99 for 375ml, Nicks Wine Merchants
Seven-plus years under flor yields a rounder, richer Sherry stamped with the tang of oyster shells and fresh lime.
$20 for 375ml, Sometimes Always