Cheers - March/April 2016

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 42 of 59 43 March/April 2016 • A s one of the most versatile wines in the world, ranging from bone dry to rich and nutty to the dessert styles, sherry is "a pairing dream, whether in a Spanish restaurant or not," says Elizabeth Mendez, proprietor and beverage director of Vera Restaurant & Wine Bar in Chicago. "While port is a little less diverse in the range of dryness, it is also enjoyable with a wide range of food." Vera carries more than 50 fortifi ed wines, mostly sherry, but also port and Madeira, as well as a diverse range of Spanish vermouth. Prices range from $6 to $22 a glass. Bottles of sherry, mainly 375 ml., range from $28 to $65. The restaurant sells 50 to 100 glasses of sherry a week. Amontillado, says Mendez, is by far the best-selling style. Although port and sherry both fall into the fortifi ed wine category, their on-premise presences are strikingly different. Port claims a long-standing niche as a traditional after-dinner indulgence, with a cheese course, chocolate desserts or on its own to end the dining experience. Sherry, because of its unusual fl avors and range of styles, is a harder sell and there's lower penetration in the market. Restaurants often promote these fortifi ed wines by pairing them with food. And bartenders are discovering port and sherry can be fl avorful, low- alcohol bases for inventive cocktails. PORT TACK "Port is 'sneaky popular'; Sales are steadier than you might think," says Ryan Valentine, director of beverage for Columbus, OH-based Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. Most port sales are post-dinner. Every restaurant in the multiconcept portfolio carries a selection of ruby, tawny and vintage ports, says Valentine. "We have seen an uptick in port sales over the past year or so," says Brett Allen, general manager/beverage director Fortifi ed wines are gaining traction on-premise on their own and as fl avorful cocktail components By Thomas Henry Strenk " We have seen an uptick in port sales over the past year or so." — Brett Allen, general manager/beverage director of 360 Bistro in Nashville. j Estrellon, a new restaurant and tapas bar in Madison WI, offers sherry cocktails such as the Albariza, made with Brandy de Jerez and oloroso, honey, lemon and cherry juices and bitters. Estrellon currently carries 16 different sherries with six by-the-glass selections.

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