Are there many better ways to spend a lazy summer’s day than a sherry picnic with friends?
If you haven’t tried it, I truly recommend it. I recently organised a little picnic for two of my favourite Norwegians so we could complain about the Swedish (only joking), whilst teaching them about the wonders of sherry. So not only did we enjoy beautiful sherry cocktails, but I was able to give them some insights into what makes a good sherry great and to look at some food combinations that enhanced the whole ‘sherry picnic experience’….
We tasted three different types of sherry: Manzanilla Barbadillo Solear, Amontillado Williams & Humbert Collection 12-year-old and Gutierrez Colosia Moscatel Soleado.
Picnic food and sherry
Even though the main focus of our picnic was various cocktails, I also wanted to explore different food pairings as different flavour profiles can enhance or in some instances completely transform the sherry.
We sipped Manzanilla together with watermelon & feta salad (mix in a bowl with lime, cumin, garam masala, chilli flakes, salt, pepper and a little extra virgin olive oil) as well as maple-glazed smoked salmon (yum!). These spices balanced the sharpness of the Manzanilla and the watermelon added a little sweetness to it.
Manzanilla is pale in colour and has slightly floral notes, such as chamomile, so it is very delicate on the palate. Other flavours that came through were almonds and pizza dough. Manzanilla has a dry but fresh finish.
With Amontillado we had peppered salami and pork pies. Most dishes with pork are perfect with this type of sherry. Also, if you like spicy food try spicy samosa with Amontillado. Both the salami and the pies were quite greasy, which mellowed the acidity of this Amontillado.
Amontillado is amber in colour and it has strong hazelnut and woody notes mixed with some herb aromas. I found this one had quite a citrusy, acidic, finish. The taste of Amontillado varies depending on the ageing, as it is aged under a veil of flor (a particular layer of yeast) but is also exposed to some air. There is a wide variety of Amontillados, and the flavour profile changes depending on the time under flor and the period of oxidation.
Our final sherry was a sweet one, Moscatel, perfect served with desserts. We soaked some strawberries in it and these really worked well together. Also, anything with chocolate is a perfect match – think chocolate mousse or, even better, coat the soaked strawberries in chocolate!
Perfect sherry cocktails for picnics
There are many sherry cocktail recipes available, but I struggled to find ones easy enough to be served outdoors during a picnic. So, we tasted a few variations with different flavours and levels of sweetness. All these recipes are made without shaking; some are muddled slightly, but you can do that with a spoon if you don’t have the right equipment.
1 Fizzy Marmalade Punch
35ml Chase Marmalade Vodka
A small spoonful of marmalade (ideally Seville Orange)
25ml Lemon juice
Sparkling Rosé (or use Prosecco)
Stir all but the sparkling rosé together with the orange slice. Add ice and top up with the rosé. You can make this at home in a jug if you want to be more prepared for the picnic. Just increase the amounts and add the ice and sparkling rosé just before serving. If you prefer it sweeter, add some extra sugar syrup.
2 Strawberry & Mint Sherry Mojito
Half a lemon
2 spoons of sugar
Handful of mint
35ml Rum (I used white)
Muddle the strawberries together with the sugar and the juice of the half lemon. Add mint. Next add ice and pour over the rum and sherry, then give it a good stir. If you want to make this into a long drink just top up with soda.
3 Apple & Pear
25ml Cider Brandy (I used a Scottish one by Strathearn Distillery. They use the leftover cider from Thistly Cross Cider and age it in virgin French or American oak.)
25ml Lemon juice
50ml Pear & Apple juice
Pour all ingredients over ice, give it a stir and top up with soda. This one is easy to make in a jug before the actual picnic. Add the ice and soda just before serving.
4 Picnic take on Classic Sherry Cobbler
80ml Sherry (I used 50:50 ratio of Manzanilla and Amontillado)
3 Slices of orange
A spoonful of sugar
Normally this recipe is made without the rosé and the ingredients should be shaken with crushed ice. But it is not convenient to use a shaker during a picnic and nor is it easy to get crushed ice (unless you are OK about taking your hammer with you…)
As an alternative, therefore, simply muddle orange slices with sugar, add ice and a few blueberries and pour over the sherry. Top up with sparkling rosé and add a few more blueberries.
5 Superfast Sherry Cocktail
Dash of Elderflower
Handful of mint
Just build over ice and top up with soda. Give it a stir and it’s ready to serve.
6 Gin & Sherry
25ml Old Tom Gin
Muddle the strawberries, basil and gin together. Add ice, Manzanilla and top up with soda. Use a pepper grinder to add black pepper and give it a good stir before serving.
We all had our different favourites so there are definitely flavours for everyone. You don’t have to love sherry to enjoy these cocktails as the flavours are nicely balanced. The girls agreed with me that the tasting notes of the sherry change when matched with certain foods, so even if you aren’t sure about the sherry in your hand, give it another chance with some yummy dishes before you judge it any further.
Have you tried sherry before? Which ones do you like? If you have a tasty sherry cocktail recipe I would love to try it!