What better to write about on Christmas day than sherry? Yes, sherry. Allow Old Parn to add his voice to the loud (yet probably still largely ineffectual) chorus of those who castigate the British public for their indifference to sherry.
Sherry is fucking brilliant.
It’s also pretty much hands-down the best value wine you can buy. Really good sherry is ludicrously cheap. Put a random £6 bottle of sherry up against a random £6 bottle of wine if you don’t believe me.
Anyhow, this here is Waitrose’s Dry Amontillado. With Amontillado, you give up some of that saltwater bite of Fino (and especially Manzanilla) sherries, some of that tastebud-awakening zap of bracing dryness.
But you’re repaid. Oh yes, you’re repaid.
Because the wonderful thing about Amontillado is the nutty, toasty, creamy exhale. The smooth, supple woodiness that lasts and lasts. With a hint of fruited sharpness up there in the eaves.
Waitrose’s offering is on the heftier side of the Amontillado spectrum: it sits on a deep, dark foundation like that of a big Old World red, and in the mouth it bristles with an invigorating spiky coarseness. It’s woody like a rough-hewn oak table, not a veneered pine worktop from IKEA.
There’s a sugary, chocolatey smoothness, though, to the smell. And when you first chuck some into your mouth, you’re greeted by a marzipan sweetness.
Very nice indeed. Like I say, this is a relatively gutsy Amontillado, so if you’re more into smooth, creamy goings on, you may prefer others. But I like gutsy.
To get top marks, they’d need to eliminate that slight catchiness at the back of the throat, the barely perceptible roughness that intrudes on the finish. But that degree of pickiness is hardly justified by the price.
If you don’t already, drink sherry. If you like sturdy red wines, this would make a very good introduction.
Oh, yeah — happy Christmas, too.
Price £7.78 from Waitrose