Liz Dowty is Square Root’s wine director/sommelier and the spokesperson for Sherry Fest NOLA.
If you’ve only tasted sherry drizzled in your turtle soup, then it’s a great time to explore this fortified wine – the inaugural Sherry Fest NOLA
kicks off today, showcasing sherry in daily events around the city that include tastings and paired prix fixe lunches. Get the full schedule here.
Sherry, on its own and in cocktails, has gained traction recently. In 2011, Bellocq popularized it in crushed-ice cobblers; last year, Lucky Rooster’s soft opening included a sherry tasting.
“Sherry is so singular, in where and how it’s produced,” says Liz Dowty, Square Root’s wine director/sommelier, and spokesperson for Sherry Fest NOLA. “It’s a serious, special wine; up there with any of the classics.”
The grapes come only from southwestern Spain’s Jerez region, and the dry styles age under a layer of ambient yeast called flor, she explains. Sherries are typically solera-blended, a signature process that filters younger wine through barrels of progressively older wine.
Drier styles include briny fino and manzanilla, which Dowty suggests pairing with fried seafood.
Amontillado and oloroso tend to be sweeter and richer, she says, and so can hold their own with cuts of meat (look for these wine styles in Doris Metropolitan’s Sherry Fest five-course lunch on Saturday).
Sweeter still are the cream and Pedro Ximenez styles (at home, she splashes them over vanilla ice cream).
Palo cortado is aged under flor and natural oxidation, making it both dry and rich. At Square Root, Dowty pairs it with almond brittle and caramel-egg yolk ice cream (“any nutty dessert goes well with it,” she adds).
Monday's grand tasting at the Windsor Court Hotel (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.) featured rare expressions of palo cortado as well as sherry-based cocktails in the Polo Club Lounge – these include an oloroso-Chambord milk punch; the Mon Sherry, with oloroso, cherry liqueur and vermouth; and the sherry-and-Scotch Matador.
Tuesday night at Root Squared, Dowty’s colleague Max Messier will shake up his own cocktail of tequila, fino, honeysuckle-sage syrup and grapefruit juice.
— Continue your education with a Sherry Fest Membership Card ($20), which rewards you with anything from discounted sherry to “free pours of sherry for life” at the discretion of these participating bars, restaurants and retailers: Windsor Court Hotel’s Polo Club Lounge, Root Squared, Lucky Rooster, Cane & Table, Pearl Wine Company, Doris Metropolitan, Herbsaint, Sylvain, WINO, Cure, Bellocq, Bouligny, Faubourg Wines, Bacchanal, Rio Mar, Bayona, The Wine Seller, Swirl, Dorignac’s, Maurepas Foods, Root, Marti’s, Rue 127, Green Goddess, Marcello’s, Martinique, and Atchafalaya.