Will sherry be the next “new gin tonic”? (Hopefully not)

The title isn’t my own invention – it is the title of a piece from El Comidista, published a little while ago.

It is a hopeful piece in that it picks up on some of the signs of optimism surrounding sherry at the moment: the Mystery of Palo Cortado movie; the prominence of sherry on the wine lists of top restaurants; the apparent success of sherry in tapas bars in the US and the growing number of sherry bars opening up. It also identifies two of the most important labels behind this new momentum – Equipo Navazos and Bodegas Tradicion.

Nevertheless the title of the piece is disconcerting and the reasoning seems incomplete. Despite a lot of good input, the overall impression is that the author started off with a bad idea and never really joins the dots.

It is true that gin and tonics are dry, as are some sherries, and that for the price of 2 or 3 gin and tonics you could have a cracking bottle of sherry, but the same is true of champagne or, come to that, a lot of quality wines. Why should sherry be a competitor of gin and tonic or vermouth and not of champagne, claret or burgundy (of either colour)?

I frankly am no expert, but whatever anyone tells you about their preferred brand of gin or tonic, their choice of salad accompaniment and goldfish bowl/chalice/goblet to put it in, by comparison to the wines of Jerez and Manzanilla these are standardised products that will cool you down, get you drunk, and maybe (depending on the tonic) protect you from malaria. Gins may not all be made in bathtubs and served in coffee cups these days, but they are products produced on an industrial scale and their success is based on differentiation, branding and marketing more than on uniqueness or complexity.

The same concepts have a role to play alright (the magic numbers again) but the wines made in the sherry triangle can be so much more than marketing. These are some of the most wonderful, complex wines being made and with every advance in terms of terroir and vintage more singular, exciting wines will be available.I really believe there is so much potential in the region for making great wines that it would be a tragedy if they fell back into the bad old ways of chasing the mass market.

 

 

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