This month the Wine Pairing Weekend Group is exploring food and wine pairings with Sherry. Jeff from Food Wine Click is hosting this event, which will inspire you to experiment with Sherry as a beverage and not just as a deglazing liquid.

I’ll admit to be being a bit of a Sherry novice. My first experience was with Sherry Baby in the old Four Seasons lyrics. But as my cooking skills matured I used it in a glass only to confirm it was still viable for cooking purposes. Finally, when the cuisine demanded it, I would order a glass at the end of meal – this mostly occurs in Las Vegas after dining at Julian Serrano’s Tapas restaurant or Jose Andrs Jaleo. Apart from that, my history with Sherry is limited to the Crane brothers’ sipping Sherry while contemplating their woes on Frasier and images of grandmothers with Sherry in their teacups. Sherry has always been a bit of a “stuffy” drink to me.

However, I’ve noticed a trend in restaurants with extensive wine programs introducing traditional dessert wines, like Sherry and Port, earlier in the menu and pairing with soups, salads, etc. This has always seemed a little backwards to me as the wines are generally higher in alcohol and palate killers. Fortunately for this Wine Pairing Weekend Group’s Sherry experiment I found a great resource at www.sherry.wine.com that discusses the five different types of Sherry and how to pair them, and provides recipes for the pairings.

Ajoblanco

Ajoblanco Chilled Spanish Soup

I selected a recipe for Ajoblanco, which is a Spanish chilled soup made from garlic and blanched, peeled almonds. The soup sounded terrific for a hot summer’s day and the ideal starter for a lobster dish that would follow. I followed the directions to a “T”, including purchasing raw almonds, blanching them, and removing the skin by hand. My initial taste of the soup was underwhelming. It was rather bland and cardboard like and I hoped the soup would gain more flavor as it chilled through the day. Fortunately, the garlic flavors developed and the soup actually had some flavor by the time I served it.

Savory & James Amontillado

Savory & James Amontillado

It was recommended that the Ajoblanco pair with an Amontillado Sherry, which sounded a lot like an Armadillo to me, so you can imagine the confusion when I asked for some Armadillo Sherry at Jensen’s Market. The wine attendant was unfazed by the request, probably due to my blonde hair, and directed me to the shelves containing a variety of Sherries. I learned that the Amontillado Sherry is a step up from Fino, which in Sherry terms means it is like skipping the $3 Buck Chuck and splurging on one of Trader Joe’s “finds.” Compared to its poorer relation, the Amontillado Sherry is described as being “fuller-bodied and more developed in physical-chemical terms, which lends greater complexity while remaining delicate on the palate, making it the perfect pair for dishes full of intense flavours such as garlic.” Sounded like a match made in heaven for the Ajoblanco soup.

Amontillado & Ajoblanco

Amontillado & Ajoblanco

The pairing was tolerable. The Amontillado Sherry did compliment the Ajoblanco soup, but I was not in love with either dish. I think the lack of options I had for Amontillado Sherry was part of the problem. I cannot afford to be too snobby when it comes to wine pricing and drink a good amount of wine under $15 a bottle as a result. But I just did not feel that the $12.95 bottle of Savory & James Deluxe Medium Sherry Amontillado was the ideal wine for drinking. There was nothing inherently wrong with the Sherry, I just didn’t find it as interesting as I was expecting. And although it calmed some of the harsh flavor of the raw garlic in the Ajoblanco. I was left wanting something more from the wine and the soup. Next time I’m at K & L Wine I’ll have to locate another bottle of Amontillado, and perhaps other sherry types as well, and try this pairing again.

Wine Pairing Weekend Sherry Discoveries
Come along and see what we discovered. Our posts are all live Saturday morning, July 9. Read up and join our chat on Twitter at #WinePW starting at 10am CDT on Saturday, July 9. See you there!

Join our Wine Pairing Weekend group on August 13 with South African Wine Pairings!

Blanched Peeled Raw Almonds for Ajoblanco

Blanched, peeled almonds….yes, I was stupid enough to do this myself and not just buy the blanched peeled slivered almonds!

5.0 from 2 reviews

Ajoblanco
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients
  • ½ cup raw almonds, blanched and skins removed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 cups cold water (not for boiling almonds – this is for making soup)
  • 3 brioche hot dog buns day-old, crust removed (or 150 grams day-old white bread)
  • 4 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • Croutons for garnish
  • Cilantro, chive, micro-greens – whatever you like for garnish

Instructions
  1. Remove crust from bread. Moisten bread in a little water to soften, and squeeze water out once softened.
  2. Bring water to a boil. Place almonds in a colander and pour ½ cup boiling water over almonds to blanch. Pour more water to blanch if skins are not removing easily when pinched between your thumb and finger.
  3. Place the peeled almonds and garlic cloves in a mixer glass with 1 cup of the cold water and blend well. Add the bread, oil, vinegar, and a little more water and blend. Add the remaining cold water, blend and season with salt. Refrigerate 6-8 hours until cold.
  4. To serve: place soup in chilled bowl, garnish with a couple croutons and herb or micro-green garnish