No matter how many recent books, articles, and tasting celebrations have sung its praises, moving the dial of sherry street cred has proven slower than molasses. Other sommelier darlings—like, say, Beaujolais (and to a lesser degree, Riesling)—finally seem to have made their way into the national limelight. But the traditional wines of Jerez in coastal Spain? “They are some of the least understood wines of this era, while being some of the most complex and labor-intensive to make,” says Ryan Ibsen of L.A.’s Bestia.
“It’ll take a little bit of time,” says McGuire Moorman Hospitality beverage director June Rodil. “Look at the rosé category. Now, tidal waves of it are being sold every summer, but it took a while for people to latch on.” Like rosé’s early struggles, a wide misconception regarding sherry is that the wines are always sweet. To get past that initial hurdle, sommeliers are making a concerted effort to get people to taste it. But where rosé can be blissfully simple, sherry styles run the gamut from light and bright to rich and dense, bone-dry to unctuous, with varying degrees of oxidative character, requiring a little more of a dialogue. “People don’t like asking questions,” says Rodil, “so as a sommelier, you need to form a trust relationship and strike up the conversation.”
Here, sommeliers from around the country weigh in on how they get diners to try sherry for the first time: