7 Must-Stop Spots for Sipping Sherry in BostonBy Scott Kearnan | February 10, 2014 By Scott Kearnan | February 10, 2014
Sommeliers and chefs around the country are obsessed with sherry, the Spanish fortified wine that ranges from bone-dry and salty to rich, nutty and sweet. Boston's restaurant and bar scene is catching onto the trend, and we've pulled together a list of spots that can guide you through the drink's many different styles.
Taberna De Haro
Chef-owner Deborah Hansen's beloved Brookline tapas restaurant features 50 sherries, one of the largest selections in the area. A list that deep could be a challenge to narrow down, so we asked Hansen to handpick a "must-try" suggestion. "For a quick and quintessential sherry and food-pairing experience, I recommend the Fino by El Maestro Sierra and a plate of bienmesabe, which is white fish marinated and fried," says Hansen. "El Maestro Sierra's is a full-bodied style of vino, with outstanding yeast presence." Her menu describes it as "bold, nutty, broody, autolytic, and superb" with "notes of jamón bone, olives, and quince." At $5.50 per glass ($28 bottle), we're sold (617-277-8272).
The Jamaica Plain neighborhood tapas restaurant has an outstanding sherry selection and hosts weekly Tuesday tastings. If you're going to stop in for some small plates from chef Marcos Sanchez, try pairing them with wine director Keith Harmon's top pick: "Deliciosa" Manzanilla from Valdespino. "This is a sherry that is crisp, delicious and approachable for someone new to sherry. But it also has a ton of complexity for the most experienced sherry drinkers." Valdespino is one of the oldest sherry producers, and their wine comes from vineyards awarded to the knight Don Alfonso Valdespino in 1264 for his part in driving the Moors from the region. Today, Harmon says, they're one of the few single-vineyard sherries on the market, "owning the process from barros to bottle."
Small plates are the star at this Back Bay favorite, but you won't want to overlook its Jerez-Sherry selections, dutifully listed from driest (Sandeman Don Fino en Rama Sherry, with notes of almond and a crisp finish) to sweetest: Jorge Ordonez Special Selection #1, which smacks of "vibrant peach and pear."
The Blue Room
Generally speaking, sherry lovers recommend serving at a cool room temperature (for sweeter sherries) or chilled (for drier picks). And that's how you'll find the sherries served at this eclectic Kendall Square favorite, with a chilled selection that includes Fino, Amontillado and Manzanilla varieties.
Solea Restaurant & Tapas Bar
If you need a reason to hit the restaurant row that is Waltham's Moody Street, you could do worse than this well-regarded tapas spot. Those in the know tip their hat to the selection of sherry and other dessert wines like ports and Medeiras.
If you want an education in sherry varieties, head to this Somerville Spanish. You'll find a stellar option representing Manzanilla (very pale, dry, sometimes a bit salty), Fino (very dry and delicate), Amontillado (mellow with a woody fragrance), and Oloroso (fairly sweet, with the aroma of ripened fruit).
Eastern Standard and The Hawthorne
As bar director of both spots, mixologist Jackson Cannon has long been beating the drum for sherry behind the bar, both in cocktails and as a solo sipper. He has visited Jerez in Spain to study and experience sherry production firsthand - and figure out how to best integrate it into craft cocktails. Each restaurant boasts a handful of sherry-forward cocktails, including Hawthorne's Sherry Cobbler (a full-bodied drink featuring seasonally changing mixed fruits and sherries over crushed ice) and Bamboo Improved (Amontillado, Sweet and Dry Vermouth) and Eastern Standard's Veil of Sanlucar (Manzanilla with chamomile mezcal and agave nectar) and Seafarer (Lustau East India sherry with dual Vermouths and salt). If you're looking to break into sherry-sipping, here's a good place to start.
Merrill & Co.
We'll add one more to the mix and offer an advance nod to this upcoming spot in the South End. After all, we already know that bar manager Kevin Mabry (a recent Boston 30 Under 30 honoree), will emphasize a sherry selection (six by-the-glass options and 20 by the bottle) at this seafood-centric spot from the BiNA Hospitality Group (Bin 26, Lala Rokh and jm Curley) slated to open in the spring.