Published by: Grub Street
I have to say that I’ve never really come to an accommodation with oxidised-style wines, hence, Sherry, Maderia, Jura etc., are all off limits to me – so why buy and read a book about Sherry? Perhaps I’m just a sucker for pretty, yellow A5-format hardbacks that look like they will only take a few days to read – oh and perhaps learn something in the process too! Actually I was kind of intrigued that 20 pages – it doesn’t sound much, but it’s about 15% of the book – is given-over to the gastronomy of the area and simple (looking) recipes that incorporate the eponymous drink. In theory the publishers have a tight ‘food-focus’, so those 20 pages must have been the key to unlocking this particular commission.
Even without the recipes for dogfish, cuttlefish and mallard, this seemed an interesting book, not-least due to the ‘blend’ of two authors; Christopher Fielden, a serial wine-book writer and Javier Hidalgo, producer of (wait for it…) Manzanilla.
One of the early things to learn is that Manzanilla is very much like Chambertin Clos de Bèze! ‘In what way?’ you clamour. Well, all Manzanilla can be labelled as sherry, but not all sherries can be labelled Manzanilla 😉
Anyway, given that book was first published (in 2009) in Spanish, it’s perhaps not surprising that the text is workmanlike rather than delivering a lyrical feeling. One thing I found a little disconcerting was the use of a descriptive term, only to have to wait another two or more pages for an explanation that term. I think it only happened a couple of times though. I didn’t perceive an obvious progression of information as offered by many books, but I’m indebted to the knowledge that Manzanilla is not just made for dogfish and tuna, it also works well with “the humble British fish and chips“. It’s fair to say that this book proposes Manzanilla with just about anything edible – a shame for me I suppose!
The ‘hints for the visitor’ section seems very useful and is home to the only ‘diagram’ in the book – a rather rudimentary map of the region sat next to small map of Spain – don’t ask me to place the region on the map though – it would have been better without it!
For a ‘compact’ book the price is relatively high at £15, with (very unusual) almost no discount on Amazon just now, but I really think people should pay a fair price for worthwhile work; I think those two criteria fit together well here. A worthy read, even if you don’t like oxidised wine 🙂