When Queen Victoria died in 1901 after an unusually long reign, her bon vivant son, finally finding himself King Edward VII, descended into the royal cellars to take inventory. Among other treasures, he found a stockpile of 60,000 bottles of sherry. The black-clad Victoria had stopped entertaining after the death of her beloved Prince Albert 40 years earlier, but the well-oiled palace bureaucracy had continued ordering the royal couple's favorite quaff in copious quantities, just as before. Sixty thousand bottles of sherry was a bit much, even for Edward. He auctioned off the well-aged surplus, no doubt reserving a few thousand bottles for his own imbibing.
Since Victoria's day, sherry has lost some of its luster. Even many with fairly savvy taste in wine used to consider sherry more appropriate for Aunt Tillie's Wednesday afternoon bridge club meeting than for an urbane dinner party. Then, the tapas mania hit, bringing Spanish wines back into focus. Sherry in particular got a new lease on life: Fino sherry is, in fact, the classic match for tapas of all sorts.
Fickle foodie fashionistas may have already moved on to this week's craze (fondue, again?), but sherry is here to stay, not as a trend but as a full-fledged fixture. With the certified renaissance of the Spanish wine industry in full swing, sherry is positioning itself in the limelight as the sophisticated drink it is. You don't have to be an Edwardian dandy to enjoy it, but who knows, the handlebar mustache may make a comeback, too.
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