This is the best day of my life,” I said out loud to nobody in particular one day, two and a half years ago. I was in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain, one of the towns in Andalucia’s “Sherry Triangle,” visiting a sherry bodega and eating Jamón Ibérico. It was a Friday morning and, while I thought about all my friends and family back in the United States who would soon rise for the workday and head to their offices, I realized how lucky I was. Good food, fortified wine, and setting have a way of stoking gratitude.
Obviously, a lot has changed since then. Before COVID, I was mainly a writer who was constantly on the road. Needless to say, I miss it a lot, though I am happily living a simpler life now. That said, I remain wistful for Spain, a country in which I have spent cumulative years of my life. So, when sherry producer Bodegas Lustau asked if I wanted to sample their En Rama line of sherries, I jumped at the chance. I can’t go to Spain right now, but drink it? That I can do!
Few drinks inspire nostalgia quite as sherry does. Even the mere mention of it causes people to ask, “Didn’t my grandma like to drink cream sherry?” The answer to that is “Yes.” But sherry, with its rainbow of golden hues across several different types and subtly sweet, oxidized, and nutty tastes, is far more than the dusty corner of a bar cart that it has been relegated to.
In the last ten years or so, sherry has enjoyed a comeback of sorts both in its home nation of Spain as well as internationally. It’s favored among bartenders, who find its range of styles and flavor variances easy to use in cocktails for a creative twist. In Spain, it reminds drinkers of a decadent past, steeped in cultural tradition. Producers like Bodegas Lustau have engaged in marketing campaigns to get the word out. Still, many don’t know much about it.
I prefer drinking sherry chilled and straight out of the bottle, as it’s consumed in Spain. The Lustau En Rama bottles I sampled, which retail for $22, were manzanillas and finos, which are the lightest types. This makes them perfect for pairing. They go with almost anything, especially salty snacks, as well as hot weather, which it seems San Diego will be enjoying for quite some time. Sherry lovers seek out En Rama because these sherries are less filtered or processed, and are therefore the closest one can get to trying it straight out of the cask.
Even better, the three bottles in the series — El Puerto de Santa Maria, Jerez, and Sanlucar de Barrameda — are named for the three cities that make up the Sherry Triangle. It doesn’t look like I’m catching a flight to Andalucia any time soon, so in the meantime, I’ll just close my eyes and use our Mediterranean-like climate with a cold sip of sherry to help me mentally transport to Spain, instead.