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Sherry Scenarios

Sherry is hot! It's as hip as urban tapas bars and as trendy as Barcelona. Americans are rediscovering what the Spanish have always known -- sherry is a wonderfully diverse wine that goes especially well with party foods.

Made primarily from the Palomino and Pedro Ximénez grapes, sherry (or Jerez, named for the town in southwest Spain where it originated) is produced in a range of styles, from dry and light to rich and sweet. A fortified wine, it has a higher alcohol content than regular table wines.

Each style can be deliciously matched with any occasion. Don't be shy -- pair your sherry!

You've invited everyone over after a concert for some late-night tapas.

Serve: Almonds, serrano ham (prosciutto works too) and Manchego cheese.
Sherry: A well-chilled fino (the driest and palest of the traditional varieties of sherry).
Note: This is the driest and lightest style of sherry. It's fresh and delicate with a slight yeasty flavor.

You're welcoming the new neighbors with a small get-together.

Serve: Light appetizers and cheeses.
Sherry: Chilled amontillado -- pair a dry variety with creamy goat cheese and pair an off-dry or medium-sweet version with blue cheese.
Note: Amontillado is an aged fino, with a darker color and fuller-bodied flavors and aromas, typically labeled "dry" or "medium."

You're borrowing your best friend's seaside cottage for a long weekend.

Serve: Seafood, grilled shrimp, caviar and anchovies.
Sherry: Manzanilla is light, refreshing and very dry.
Note: Manzanilla is a great aperitif by itself, but it is also lovely with tapas.

You're planning a bridal shower for your niece.

Serve: An array of desserts, especially those with caramel, praline, or raisins.
Sherry: Cream sherry, a sweet dessert wine, served on its own or spooned over ice cream.
Note: Cream sherry is rich, raisiny, powerfully concentrated and sometimes referred to as "PX" after the Pedro Ximénez grapes it's made from.

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