Downton effect gives "unfashionable" sherry a boost

Downton effect gives “unfashionable” sherry a boost as drama fans take to the tipple

Once considered the tipple of grandmothers and elderly aunts, sherry is now back in fashion – and it”s thanks to TV drama Downton Abbey.

For many years, sherry has been regarded as the preserve of the pensioner – a Christmas aperitif for the older generation – or at best, a key ingredient in trifle or to spice up a sauce.

Now though, thanks to its prevalence in the ITV show, sherry has shaken off its stuffy, staid image and is emerging as the pre-dinner drink of choice for many – young and old.

Back in vogue: The Downton effect has been hailed for the rise in popularity of the once-staid sherry

Back in vogue: The Downton effect has been hailed for the rise in popularity of the once-staid sherry

Marks and Spencer has reported a 15 per cent rise in sales over the past three months – a surge that sherry experts are attributing entirely to the so-called “Downton effect”.

In the hit drama, members of the household frequently enjoy a small glass of chilled sherry at the table with their starting course of soup.

And now, consumers are doing the same.

A spokesman for wineanorak.com said: ‘It’s been so unfashionable for so long and associated with maiden aunts, that it must be the recent media coverage which has had an effect.’

Gordon Ramsay has long been a supporter of sherry, encouraging diners to order it as an alternative to wine

Gordon Ramsay has long been a supporter of sherry, encouraging diners to order it as an alternative to wine

Bars up and down the country are doing their part to promote the fortified wine too, with a growing number establishments introducing sherry menus in an attempt to encourage diners to opt for a pre-dinner nip.

Gordon Ramsay, for many years a staunch supporter of sherry, says he encourages newcomers to the drink – and even recommends the drink to diners in his restaurants as an alternative to wine.

“A really chilled glass of sherry is delicious with a meal,” he says.

“It”sabout time we started focusing a little more excitement around sherry, coming to terms with how good it is and how flexible it is with food. The Spaniards certainly know a good thing.”

Buthow should you drink your sherry Bosco Torremocha of the sherry Institute of Spain advises: “While some medium and sweet styles taste best at room temperature, the secret with sherry, especially dry styles,is to chill it, store it in the fridge and consume within a couple of days of opening, as you would a white wine.”

FOR THE YOUNGER GENERATION… WHAT IS SHERRY
Sherry

Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes that are grown near the town of Jerez de la Frontera in Spain.

In its home country, sherry is named vino de Jerez. The English term “sherry” comes simply from an anglicisation of the word Jerez.

After fermentation of the wine is complete, sherry is fortified with brandy.

Because the fortification takes placeafter fermentation, most sherries are initially dry, with any sweetnessbeing added later (in contrast to port wine, for example, which is fortified halfway through its fermentation, which stops the process so that not all of the sugar is turned into alcohol).

Sherry is produced in a variety of styles, ranging from dry, light versions such as finos to darker and heavier versions known as olorosos, all made from the Palomino grape.

Sherry is a protected designation of origin product in Europe – like Champagne – meaning all wine labelled as “sherry” must legally come from the Sherry Triangle, which is an area in the province of Cdiz between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Mara.

In 1933 the Jerez Denominacin de Origen was the first Spanish denominacin to be officially recognised in this way.