Sherry. Why is it becoming popular again?
Centuries ago it was an elegant drink for posh people and for wine drinkers who had special drinks for different times of the day or occasions.
Over time it as a category degenerated into a cheap drink that gave more bang for the buck because of the high alcohol (fortified) nature.
Excise men soon wised up and charged double tax for anything over 15% and, in the case of New Zealand (Jim Anderton's fault) buggered up the equation by classing it the same as cheap spirits and basically priced it off the market.
In the case of New Zealand the category is dead.
But, it may be coming back albeit in a minor and specilaised way.
It won't be the huge market that allowed wine producers to pump out all sorts of sweet and diabolical shit and which had a big market share.
This was the favourite tipple of the little old ladies who gradually turned yellow from the effect of the alcohol and the colouring additives.
I wonder what they drink now?
Funny enough it was old Richard of RBB when he was a young man who boosted sherry consumption statistics. This was unusual in that he was in his early twenties when he was drinking Findlater Dry Fly and Williams and Humbert Walnut Brown - definitely non-demographic.
He wasn't really the classical figure of elegant sherry sipping though.
With a slight resurgance of sherry consumption a few of the better importers and retailers are stocking interesting and fresh product.
I mention fresh because the best sherries are not those over-sweetened and cloying ones with 'cream' and 'milk' in their names. These are generally oxidised to hell and held up by high alcohol and sugar.
No, I mean the Finos and Manzanillas that are very dry and have low alchol (for sherry) at about 15%.
Like White Port though they don't last very long in the bottle whether it's been opened or not. You need to know when it was bottled and hopefully buy it within a couple of months of this.
I bought a couple of half bottles of the excellent La Guita Manzanilla from Glengarry recently.
This classy sherry (15%) was imported by Glengarry's sister company Hancocks Wine and Spirits and they thoughtfully have the bottling date printed on the back label - in this case 10 July 2014.
The wine is crisp, fresh and with a lovely nutty finish (no jokes please). It is a classic example of why we should support speciality and experience importers and retailers and avoid the mass market booze peddlars. Admittedly New Zealand's backward liquor laws don't allow supernmarkets to sell fortified wines like Port and Sherry but even if it did they'd more likely stock this.