|The soil is dry in Jerez and the sun is bright and hot|
What I wonder about is whether there will be any lasting change in our drinking habits.
Don't get me wrong, like most wine geeks I enjoy a nice glass of Sherry, particularly fino and manzanilla. But there's no wine in the world with a greater ratio of media coverage to consumption by non-wine professionals.
In some ways, Sherry is perfect for the San Francisco style of eating. We like small plates, we like seafood, we like unusual flavor combinations, and we like wines by the glass. All of that screams "manzanilla!"
But there's a big obstacle: the California palate.
|The solera system has some famous fans|
To me, Sherry is about as far from the taste of California wine as you can get.
The freshest manzanillas and finos, my favorites, taste like salt and sand and maybe some citrus pith. They're refreshing and dry dry dry. The more aged ones that many critics fawn over taste like floor polish. You can learn to like floor polish just like you can learn to like diesel; I am not put off by diesel as a descriptor for German Riesling. But older, heavier Sherries -- olorosos and palo cortados -- don't fit quite so comfortably on a by-the-glass list. They're not really for light appetizers, they're not really dessert wines.
Another thing that Sherry has going for it here is that its wines deliver something that California can't do itself. A maker of very fine Central Otago Pinot Noir once told me he had given up on the California market because if people were going to drink an expensive Pinot not from Burgundy, they would buy it from California or maybe Oregon. But there's no substitute here for Sherry, either in the taste of the wines or the history and the enticing stories of the solera system.
The question is, will several days of tastings and seminar, mostly for sommeliers and the media, be enough? Sommeliers and the media already love Sherry. Will the general public buy in?
The answer will come not in the many blog posts like this one over the next few weeks, but six months from now, in the number of Sherries on restaurant wine lists. Right now it's about as popular here as Hungarian dry Furmint. The sponsors of SherryFest are shooting higher than that.
SherryFest event listings are here.