Attending a sherry tasting/seminar with wine and spirits guru Steve Olson, and virtually every Master Sommelier in town, can be an intimidating experience. But such is the respect that ELV has for (fellow Iron Chef America judge) Olson, that he forgot how little he knows about this fortified wine, and plopped himself down at a seat for a special luncheon at RM Seafood, to hear Olson expound upon the joys and complexities of this underrated product of Southern Spain.
Olson, along with Master Sommelier Robert Smith of Picasso and General Manager Jeff Eichelberger of RM Seafood, poured no less than fifteen (15) different sherries, from bracing, briny finos and Manzanillas, to intricate Olorosos and Amontillados — one of which — a Lustau Moscatel “Emilin” — cames from a solera at least fifty years old. It was all pretty heady stuff for ELV, who heretofore equated the drinking of sherry with folks of this generation.
One of the ways you know sherry has shed that reputation is by talking to talented, young mixologists like Leo DeGroff — who will happily instruct you as to all the ways sherry can be incorportated into serious cocktails. ELV takes DeGroff at his word, since his dad, Dale DeGroff — The King Of Cocktails — first introduced us to the mixed drink renaissance (that Dale helped start) back in the early ’90’s, at the Rainbow Room in NYC. (ELV still has a cocktail menu from the top of 30 Rock from 1993, autographed by DD, where the most expensive libation on the list is $6.75 for a Between-the-Sheets — brandy, Benedictine, Cointreau, lemon — but you knew that.)
Expect sherry to be the next big thing in wine service, and brace yourself for the multitudinous ways this crisp/complicated/fortified/oxidized wine pairs so beautifully with so many kinds of food. (e.g. nothing goes better with prosciutto or jamon Iberico.)
Special Bonus Section: TOP 5 THINGS OVERHEARD AT STEVE OLSON SHERRY SEMINAR:
5) “That ELV poseur couldn’t find his oloroso with two hands and a flashlight.”
4) “There’s one flor I wouldn’t want to walk on.”
3) “As Desdemona said to Othello: ‘I think I’ll have some Moor.’ ”
2) “Steve Olson is really one fino guy.”
And the number one thing overheard at Steve Olson’s sherry seminar/tasting:
1) “Boy, that flamenco dancer sure had some bodegas ta-ta’s!”