What A Pair: Manzanilla Sherry and Pan Con Tomate at Jaleo

Manzanilla sherry is made in a seaside town in southern Spain

By Marisa Finetti

Taste a Fresh and Zesty Sherry With Savory Tapas

Jaleo by José Andrés showcases the regional diversity of Spanish wines and cuisine in a festive, casual atmosphere inside The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. While you’re there, try Bodegas Alonso Manzanilla Velo Flor Sherry with pan de cristal con tomate fresco.

Where: Manzanilla sherry is made specifically in the seaside town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the Andalusia region of southern Spain. 

What: Manzanilla is a fino sherry made from Palomino grapes and is aged under a layer of yeast called flor. The very special microclimate of Sanlúcar de Barrameda favors the development of the yeast layer, which imparts distinctive characteristics to the wine. Manzanilla is fresh and zesty, particularly light and suggestive of briny notes with a slight but pleasant bitterness.

Like all sherries, it is stored and aged in oak barrels or butts—as they are often called—and uses the traditional solera system for maturation, which involves a large number of casks for fractional blending across vintages.

Weather: The microclimates of Sanlúcar contribute to the uniqueness of Manzanilla Sherry. The River Guadalquivir to the north of Sanlúcar, the Atlantic Ocean where the river empties and an extensive stretch of wetlands generate milder temperatures, higher levels of relative humidity and salty air. The unique climate combination fosters the growth of the flor, the characteristic film of yeast that is native to Sanlúcar and endows Manzanilla wines with their unique characteristics. 

The Sip

Bodegas Alonso Manzanilla Velo Flor Sherry’s citrine color with golden highlights indicates a wine with intention—expressive and brooding. The aromas remind of being in a busy seaside bakery with notes of straw, earth, caramel, sea spray and chamomile. The palate is dry and fresh, with traces of Marcona almonds and stewed apricots, and is invigoratingly alive with pungency and mild oxidative character. 

Occasionally, Manzanillas undergo longer aging periods. This one was aged for 10 years, which clearly promises more aromatic and structural power. Manzanilla is a perfect aperitif or accompaniment to a wide variety of foods, particularly well with olives, fish, shellfish, jamón and tomato bread.

The Bite

It’s simple and modest yet addicting. Pan con tomate is as humble as tapas can get. With only a handful of ingredients—bread, tomato, olive oil, garlic and salt—it charmingly highlights wholesome earthly goodness. In this sense, it’s similar to the Italian bruschetta. But the difference is the texture. Ripe tomato pulp is smashed into the bread in pan con tomate, while bruschetta features more of the tomato and perched on top.

Jaleo Taps Bar in Washington, D.C.

The feeling of delight is also different—ethereal and sensual as opposed to a hearty, joyful sensation for bruschetta. And for something that evokes such emotion, this classic Catalonia tapas begs for Manzanilla. And, while you’re at Jaleo, go ahead and order Manchego cheese because why not?

Read: L.A. Legend Wally’s Wine & Spirits to Open at Resorts World

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