Finding a delicious wine pairing to yesterday’s Queso de la Serena recommendation was just too tempting a challenge to ignore.
I agree with our mystery writer that a dry Rioja would be a nice marriage with this cheese; the chalky tannins absorbing the cheeses slightly bitter pungency resulting in a symphony of dynamic flavors. However there is another, less common wine that could be a creative response to these complex flavors.
That wine is the greatly misunderstood Sherry. Sherry's image suffered terribly in the 1970’s and 1980’s when low quality Sherries flooded wine stores. Global sales slowed and as a result Spain uprooted many of their century old Palomino vineyards. Recently, in hopes of getting back to their Sherry roots, top producers voluntarily agreed to forbid the export of cheap, bulk Sherries in an effort to steer the public away from Grandma's Bristol Cream and back towards the elegant styles of Ponce de Leon.
There are two basic styles of Sherry: Fino & Oloroso. The richer, heavier, sometimes sweet wines are Olorosos, whereas the Fino style is light, dry & refreshing. All Sherries are fortified with alcohol, creating intense flavors devoid of fruit.
The Emilio Lustau Light Manzanilla Papirusa is a lighter Fino style and an excellent aperitif. Manzanilla Sherries are Fino Sherries, which are only produced in the seaside town of Sanlucar, whose soils are thought to give Manzanilla a unique saltiness. Manzanilla Sherries are light straw in color, with a crisp, bone dry, clean taste and a tang of saltiness. These flavors should bounce off the creaminess of the cheese harmoniously, with the salty clean tones encircling the pungency of the queso, creating an interesting pairing. Fino and Manzanillar Sherries are young wines that should not be aged or they will lose their fresh vivaciousness. Best served chilled.