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 45 of 59 46 • March/April 2016 use a white wine, oloroso pairs like a red wine, and then Pedro Ximenez and moscatel finish dinner in the dessert category." Enticing pairings can really bump up the average check, believes McGinnis. He suggests a briny manzanilla with an order of fresh raw oysters. And Estrellon's Basque cake with sour cream custard is delicious with a splash of PX on top—and a glass of the sherry to match, of course. It's a hand sell, he notes: "That only works when the staff has tasted the combos and really gets behind the recommendations." While port and sherry are the best known, they aren't the only fortified wines. Examples abound in just about every long-established wine region. Particularly, Madeira and Marsala can often be found in well-stocked American wine lists. "People think Madeira and Marsala are only used in cooking, but they are delicious to drink, too," says Derek Brown. "At 360 Bistro, we have some aged Madeiras that sell well for us," reports Allen. "Madeira is great with dessert," he adds, "especially those made with chocolate, caramel or peanuts." WineStyles has offered Madeira by the glass "and found that our guests liked it better than sherry," says Lampros. He has also held in-store seminars on Madeira—as well as on port and sherry. These are classroom-style events with expert speakers, PowerPoint presentations and tastings. "We do a great business with Madeira at L'Etoile," says McGinnis. That wine is matched with the tasting menu there, usually the dessert course. Marsala is paired that way as well. (For more, see "Marsala vs. Madeira," left.) COCKTAIL CONNECTION For many restaurant and bar customers these days, cocktails are the first encounter with fortified wine. "Cocktails helped push sherry back into the mainstream," says Mendez, "which is helping customers learn to enjoy fortified wine on its own." Vera's list includes four cocktails featuring some type of sherry, as well as a seasonal White Port & Tonic. One of the most popular drinks is the sherry Boulevard, a variation on the Boulevardier (which itself is a variant of the Negroni) that substitutes sherry for bourbon. Cocktails are a stepping stone: "People may not know sherry or may even be intimidated by it, but they aren't intimidated by cocktails," says Brown at Mockingbird Hill. The Sherried Old Fashioned adds PX to the traditional recipe. The Bamboo is a Manhattan variant, substituting manzanilla for bourbon. "Using fortified wines is a way to producer lower-alcohol cocktails," he points out. "With port, sherry and Madeira as a base, you get the same richness and intensity and an interesting flavor profile." At Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, Valentine is busy experimenting with sherry cocktails in the company's test bar. "Sherries are on the rise in a lot of our markets." Estrellon's drinks list includes cocktails like the Albariza, made with Brandy de Jerez and oloroso, honey, lemon and cherry juices and bitters. "Sherry and port seem always on the cusp of going big," observes McGinnis. "There is recognition going on in New York, San Francisco and LA, and that seems to be penetrating from the coasts. I'm keeping my fingers crossed." Thomas Henry Strenk is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, NY, specializing in all things drinkable. MARSALA VS. MADEIRA Marsala is a fortified wine made in the regions surrounding the city of Marsala in Sicily, Italy. It can be sweet or dry, white or red. Marsala is classified according to levels of sweetness and age. It is matured in a perpetuum, which is similar to sherry's solera system. Marsala is most commonly used in cooking in the U.S. Madeira, a fortified wine from the portuguese islands of Madeira off the coast of Africa, was born of necessity and a happy accident. Originally alcohol was added to the wine to protect the large casks (called pipes) during transport to far-flung markets. It was then discovered that the heat and hardship of long sea voyages actually improved the quality of the wine. Madeira today is matured on the islands in specially heated rooms called estufas, which oxidizes the wine into a tawny color. Madeira had its heyday during the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was perhaps the most popular wine in America. The Founding Fathers loved Madeira, and toasted the signing of the Declaration of Independence with it. Madeira is classified according to the grape varietal (containing at least 85%): sercial is dry and tartly acidic; verdelho is also dry with a smoky accent; bual is dark and raisiny; and malvasia (a.k.a malmsey) boasts toffee flavors. Because of the unique production process, Madeira is exceptionally long-lived; well-heeled wine lovers can find century-old bottles still available in specialty shops.—THS Mockingbird Hill's owner Derek Brown says that sherry is "the most pairable with food of all wines," plus sherry works as an aperitif, with dinner or as an after-dinner drink.

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