Cafe Society: Sssssssssh, it's sherry

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
It's always had a bit of a Mavis Wilton image but, as Nikki Spencer found out, things are looking up for sherry

For the next few weeks, three high-profile London restaurants will be running a special promotion for one particular brand of the Spanish drink, Tio Pepe fino. Only the word "sherry" doesn't actually get a mention.

"We won't be referring to it as sherry at all," says Nick Mason, wines and spirits manager of Soho Soho. "Sherry is the tired brown dull stuff that you had with trifle and sipped while waiting for an overcooked Sunday lunch.

"Fino, on the other hand, is drunk chilled over ice. It's lively, it's fresh and it's great with food."

Sherry is being reinvented all over the shop. Adverts in the glossy magazines extol its virtues while the traditional brown bottles have been superseded by trendy blue and sensual shaped ones, with names such as Dune and Isis.

The turning point for sherry came last year, when EC legislation was brought in saying that only Spanish- produced sherry could be labelled as "sherry". Evidently this, combined with our love of Spanish holidays and tapas bars, has encouraged the drinking public to think again.

Supermarket chains are reporting a big growth in sales, and projections indicate that by the end of the year, the British will have downed 23 million bottles.

The key to sherry's new image is the way we drink it. Forget sipping from a crystal gIass - it should be enjoyed straight from the fridge and served in a tall glass, on the rocks.

It might not please the residents of Acacia Avenue, but younger drinkers are catching on. Sherry sales in the 25 to 44-year-old age group now account for a third of the total UK market, according to Allied Domecq.