Try This Terrific Twosome: Tapas and Tio Pepe

Try This Terrific Twosome: Tapas and Tio Pepe

A forgotten pleasure for your salty appetizers

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Have you ever been lucky enough to have a grand tapas luncheon in Spain? Or have you simulated such a thing here at home, including same-day-caught shrimp, Jamón Iberíco, aged Manchego and addictive Marcona almonds? Then you know that the ultimate wine match for this appetizing spread is Fino Sherry! I’ve never understood why this true delight is not drunk more often in the U.S. Well, maybe I do. Say “Sherry,” and people think of an amber liquid only suitable for fireside sipping with Granny. But Fino Sherry is crystal-clear, bone-dry and bracing, cutting through all of these foods’ richness and leaving your palate clean – ready for more.

A couple of things: Fino should be served ice cold – some restaurants don’t even do this properly. And it’s a wine to drink as young as possible. (Buy it at a wine shop that has a quick turnover of products. The brand I tried now has a “best by” date on the back. My bottle says: February, 2019.) Today’s example is world-famous and delivers the essence of its deliciousness. It’s Tio Pepe from Gonzáles Byass. Every time I serve it to friends, new devotees are established.

Tio Pepe Palomino Fino Sherry, Gonzáles Byass $20

Translucent, very pale straw yellow in color. Invigorating, oily-yet-tangy bouquet with elements of tree nuts, lemon peel, green olive and the sensation of ocean breezes. Full flavored and refined, the acidity is low but the refreshment element is in full force. Apple-like and citrusy with backbone, sweet spice, umami and a salty/yeasty note on the finish. Remember to serve ice cold! A wonderful experience and relative bargain. Drink now.

91/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi
Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.