Sherry - You all know the name but most of you will never drink it let alone buy it.
It has a stigma, Sherry; Sweet, sticky, associated with grannies at Christmas, and often only thought of as an ingredient in making trifle. Although what’s wrong with sherry trifle!
So, what is it about Sherry that has us running for the hills?
Sherry comes from the Jerez region in southern Spain where it has been made for centuries. It is a fortified wine that simply put, is a regular wine base with grape spirit added to it.
There are many different styles available, not all brown, sticky and sweet.
Although there’s a lot more to the whole process than just that simple description, it should suffice for the purpose of this article.
During the 16th century sherry was thought to be the finest wine available in Europe and it’s popularity continued to grow through the following centuries until it’s peak in the 1970’s.
In the 1980’s there was a huge decline in popularity and exports from Spain fell by over a half.
The reason for this decline is unclear but the timeline does coincide with the arrival of cheap and cheerful wines from the USA and Australia.
Coincidence? Who knows?
Grannies are associated with sherry much like old ladies are synonymous with gin.
In grannies earlier years it was thought unladylike for a female to drink hard liquor and wine usually came in the form of claret that was drunk in very small amounts at dinner.
Champagne was expensive and there was little alternative outside of port (thought a more manly choice) or sherry.
So, it became acceptable for females to drink a small tipple of sherry for those special occasions.
The glasses were tiny hourglass shaped thimbles and one small shot was nursed for hours as gulping it down would be seen as unladylike.
For years grannies took pride in having a “special” bottle of sherry that they could knock back occasionally because, to them, it was special and sharing it with you was akin to coming of age.
I wonder if they actually liked the taste. I bet some hated it!
Maybe sherry has a bad rap because, back in the day, it was most teenager’s first taste of alcohol.
Brought out of grannies cupboard, dusted down and a dribble given to unsuspecting victims who were only allowed because it was a special occasion.
The bottle was then put away to oxidize for another year before being brought out again for the same poor souls to endure.
It’s no wonder no one liked it or has fond memories of their sherry torture.
Nothing like being introduced to alcohol gradually!
Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Croft Original still make me shudder today when I hear the name or see the bottle.