Sherry is a beverage you most likely associate with your grandma at Thanksgiving. Or maybe because you enjoy your scotch aged in barrels that once held this mysterious liquid. Sherry today actually represents one of the world’s great wine bargains, and many examples are inspired pairings with your favourite cigars. In fact, they are often inspired pairings with your favourite foods. A good sherry deserves a place in your liquor cabinet, since most sweet or off-dry examples last virtually forever once opened. I recently tryed Noé from Gonzalez Byass and was blown away.
Noé is a little unconventional for sherry since it is made entirely from Pedro Ximenez grapes which usually produce bland sweet wine. Most sherry blends Pedro Ximenez with wines made from the Palomino grape which is a lighter bodied grape in a solera system. Basically a solera means the wine is put in barrels and as the wine evaporates barrels from the top of a big stack are used to fill barrels lower down. A yeasty cap that is unique to Jerez forms over the wine and preserves it over the years as it evaporates. Those lower barrels inevitably become a treasure of aged sweet wine that is bottled at a date determined by the cellar master and the desired style of wine. Noé is made from wines a minimum of 30 years of age that are aged in a warmer environment, similar to Madeira, which creates an intensely dark, sweet and complex drink. The first time you see it in your glass you’ll think you’re drinking motor oil, it’s that dark and viscous. Spark a cigar, and your taste bud will exalt you. The rich flavours of toffee, spices and roasted vanilla manage to be refreshing and sweet at the same time, allowing your palate to be cleansed while complimenting the traditional flavours from cigar smoke. For an extra treat, add in a bowl of good quality vanilla ice cream while you smoke.