Sherry Baby!

18 July 2014 by in Wine and spirits

We at Infinite Ideas are very excited today! The manuscript for Julian Jeffs’ sixth edition of the ultimate Sherry guide has arrived and will be ready for publication in November. Here’s a little something to whet your appetites:

A sickly old-fashioned drink fit only for the plughole, or one of the world’s best value and underrated drinks? Focus your attention on Fino and you might soon have an opinion. The reason for the huge success of Sherry during the 50s and 60s was that it was an inexpensive, potent and supposedly long-lived alternative to wine. Now that wine is cheaper we think nothing of cracking open a bottle at the drop of a hat. But Fino Sherry is arguably the most delicious, best-value, highest-quality wine known to humankind. In order to decide where you stand on the issue you need to undertake a most dramatic exercise in filleting: imagine that the only style of Sherry in existence is Fino.

Sherry_JeffsSounds radical, but the idea is not that you never allow any other type of Sherry to pass your lips, but simply that if you are to learn to understand Fino you must renounce all other Sherries.

Sherry is made in Andalucia near the seaside towns of Jerez de la Frontera (‘Jerez’ is the origin of the English name ‘Sherry’), Sanlucar de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa Maria. The Palomino Fino grape used makes pretty dull table wines but great Fino Sherry thanks to a natural yeast called ‘flor’ that is created by the Sherry-making process. Fino is created by a curious, complex process known as the solera system in which after a few years in the barrel a third of the oldest Sherry is bottled and the remainder is topped up with younger Sherry before being aged further.

Taste Test
• Good-quality Fino • Cheap Fino • Cheap Port • Pouilly Fume •
White Rioja • Cheap Australian Chardonnay.

Tasting these wines side by side will help you to put the unique character of Fino into context. The point to remember when tasting these wines is that unlike the others (with the exception of the Port) Fino is fortified to a strength of around 15% – double that of some light German wines and a third more than most white wines. On an empty stomach you’ll find that it packs an even more powerful punch.

Here’s an idea for you:
Keep a bottle of Sherry in the fridge for use as an early evening sharpener. One evening you could even try drinking it as an accompaniment to food. Just remember that it has quite a high alcohol content.

Taken from Instant wine expert by Giles Kime

Preorder Sherry by Julian Jeffs

The cognac aroma wheel: your guide to cognac harmony

4 July 2014 by in Wine and spirits

This infographic is taken from Cognac, by Nicholas Faith, who has also written Nicholas Faith’s guide to cognac, which you can download free here. Both guides highlight the extraordinary range of cognacs available and will teach even the most clued-up cognac fan a few things about their favourite drink.

The great thing about cognac is the complexity of its flavours, which alter according to the seasons and the more mature the spirit, the better. See if you can spot any of these flavours the next time you have a glass:
Cognac flavour wheel demonstrating the complexity of flavours in cognac

New release: Cognac by Nicholas Faith

2 October 2013 by in Book publishing, Wine and spirits

What is it that inspires people to spend astronomical sums of money on a cask of cognac? And what is it about this golden drink that has even driven people to violence? To put it simply: why is cognac the world’s greatest brandy?

Nicholas Faith has the answers in his acclaimed Cognac, an unparalleled collection of insights into the world’s finest brandy. This book is an expertly led tour through cognac’s fascinating history, with quick reference sections to amuse and intrigue. Find out why Snoop Doggy Dog and Jay-Z get a mention; which are the best years for quality vintages (and which should be avoided); which firms produce the finest cognacs (from one-man operations to huge manufacturers), and which oaks impart the best flavours.

Nicholas Faith is the world’s leading authority on cognac and has twice won the prestigious André Simon prize. Our completely updated third edition of Cognac includes a fully updated directory of the top producers and their brandies, including the author’s tasting notes.

Our favourite parts of the book have to be the sections on combining cognac with chocolate, and the assortment of cocktail recipes. We thought we’d share a few with you here.

To make a Brandy Julep you will need:

5–6 mint leaves
1 tsp caster sugar
1 measure of cognac

Put the ingredients into a Collins glass (a small but tall tumbler) and stir until the mint rises to the top.

To make a Brandy Collins, simply mix together:

1tsp caster sugar
1 small measure of cognac
Juice of ½ lemon