The so­cial drinker

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - APPETITES - Tom Mol­loy

What wine to pair with a var­ied menu is, ad­mit­tedly, a First World prob­lem, but it’s still a prob­lem. While most of us know what we like to drink with a steak or a packet of Tay­tos, it can be harder to pair wines with strong-tast­ing foods that come in small quan­ti­ties. I found my­self won­der­ing about this dilemma the other day as I munched ta­pas.

While get­ting ready to feast on every­thing from fresh prawns in chilli, to fried squid rings, and egg dishes, I was un­sure about what to drink. In a quandary, I con­sulted some Span­ish ac­quain­tances of mine who came up with a sen­si­ble so­lu­tion: try sherry.

In this case, the sherry in ques­tion was a bot­tle of Bar­badillo Fino, which was ideal as a com­pan­ion to ta­pas, but I’m not sure why I did not think of this pair­ing by my­self. Sherry is per­haps the most ver­sa­tile food wine in the world, but the long names at­tached to the four main types can make it easy to for­get what goes with what.

The sim­ple an­swer is that man­zanilla and fino are good for ta­pas, sushi, smoked sal­mon and cured meats; while the more nutty oloroso and amon­til­lado suit game and sweet pud­dings.

Per­son­ally, I find that man­zanilla is of­ten a lit­tle too tart, but I al­most al­ways en­joy a de­cent fino sherry if it has been chilled prop­erly.

For those who don’t like sherry but do like ta­pas, a nice rioja or a wine from the Rias Baixas re­gion in Gali­cia, which is lo­cated in north-west Spain, makes plenty of sense.

A good ex­am­ple of a wine from this area is Veiga Naum Al­barino (€18.45, O’Brien’s Wine, see obrienswine.ie) which has a hint of lime and lemon and makes a par­tic­u­larly good match with fish, but is also suit­able for al­most all other ta­pas dishes.

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