Quite a strange experience today hunting out sherry here in a big UK supermarket – and an interesting comparison with a Spanish supermarket on the Brit-friendly Costa del Sol.
First, unlike in Spain, in this UK supermarket the sherry was nowhere near the wine section: wine was aisle 16, beer and cider aisle 15 and sherry on the end of aisle 14, after the liqueurs, spirits and port. I find that a bit bizarre I must admit.
Second, the range of sherries is of course different – both in terms of brands and styles. Brandwise, of the sherries we would get in Spain there are only four – Tio Pepe, Solear, La Gitana and Canasta (and maybe Croft Original and Harveys Bristol Cream, but you wouldn’t call them Spanish brands even if Croft is owned by GB). More importantly, there is a big contrast in terms of styles: including the Spanish interlopers I count three finos and three manzanillas, two amontillados (including the Croft Particular) and one oloroso; compared to 7 creams, 4 medium drys, and 4 pale creams (and four ginger wines). Nine dry sherries against 15 sweet (and I am not sure about Croft Particular – might be 8:16). By comparison with Supersol, the numbers would have been 7 fino, 4 manzanilla, one oloroso, one cream, and three px. Overall 2 sweet blends in Spain (not counting the monovarietal px) against 15 or 16 in the UK.
Third, although at first it was heartening to see a biggish selection, just as in Supersol, a closer look left me a bit less optimistic. Not a lot of high quality wine here and the price range is depressingly similar. Tio Pepe is almost the most expensive wine in both places. Now Tio Pepe is great, but it is cheap – there were Ports on the shelf next door that were 3, 4 or 5x as expensive as the costliest of the sherries.
Must admit to being a little disappointed – even if we are talking supermarkets. It seems to me that sherry has a lot of ground to make up (in both countries).