Monday, May 23, 2011

Rant: Tapeo, Where is the Real Sherry?

During the summer, it can be quite satisfying to sit at the patio of Tapeo, a Spanish tapas restaurant on Newbury Street, and drink Sangria while enjoying Gambas al Ajillo or Pato Braseado. Besides the Sangria, they also have a good Spanish wine list, with Txacoli, Albarino, Tempranillo and more. But, in one respect, their wine list fails in a significant way, and I am still seeking an explanation for this lapse.

Tapeo, where is your real Sherry?

The Tapeo wine list has a heading "Jerez-Sherry" and there are four entries beneath it, yet none of those four wines are either from Jerez or are actual Sherries. Why is that the case?  Why don't they carry actual Sherries? This is a Spanish restaurant so you would expect to see true Sherry, and not just Serry-style wines. It would be like a French restaurant carrying sparkling wine from France but no real Champagne. As a Spanish restaurant, I expect they know the difference between true Sherry and simply sherry-style wines so it is even more puzzling why they do not stock true Sherry.

To be legally known as Sherry, the wine must be produced within a specific region, the Denominación de Origen of Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, which is located in the Andalucia region of southern Spain in the province of Cadiz. The points of the “Sherry Triangle” are formed by the cities of Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María, and Sanlúcarde Barrameda. Beside the place of origin, the wine also has to be produced in a specific manner to be considered Sherry. Real Sherry can be such a sublime wine, especially its aged forms.

Three of the wines on Tapeo's list are from the Alvear winery, which is located in the D.O. of Montilla-Moriles, and thus are not legally Sherry. Just think of it as a sparkling wine made outside of the Champagne region, and thus unable to call itself Champagne. The fourth wine on Tapeo's list is from the D.O. of Malaga, so it also is not legally a sherry.  This is not an esoteric piece of information, but is something easily known to anyone with a basic knowledge of Sherry.

The Alvear wines are produced through a solera method, like true Sherry, but they generally use the Pedro Ximinez (PX) grape instead of the usual Palomino grape. With true Sherry, the dry Sherries, such as fino, manzanilla, amontillado, palo cortado, and oloroso, are produced from the Palomino grape. They generally only use PX for their sweet Sherries, but Alvear uses PX for their dry Sherry-style wines. Thus, with Alvear wines, you are also not gaining any understanding of the depths of the mysterious Palomino grape.

I previously emailed Tapeo inquiring why they do not carry any true Sherries on their list. I failed to receive a response so, on April 29, I attempted to contact them on Facebook and Twitter. On May 5, I received a reply on Facebook that they would look into the issue. As of May 22, I have not yet heard back with any type of explanation. I remain puzzled as to why they don't carry actual Sherry.

Sherry is very misunderstood by the general public so a Spanish restaurant should provide the public accuracte information about this iconic Spanish wine. If you offer Sherry on your wine list, then it should be real Sherry. Otherwise, why not list it as "Sherry-style" wine?

So I must ask once again...

Tapeo, where is your real Sherry?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's astounding. It really is amazing when you have restaurant management ignoring these issues with their restaurants. Sadly, it seems common in this area.