Next up on our list of fellow sherry lovers is Ellie Scott, Wine Consultant and Spanish Wine Scholar!
Ellie has been a great supporter of educating the public in all thing's sherry, with a shared goal of removing negative preconceptions people may hold and promoting sherry as an exciting and versatile category with a style for quite literally every type of wine drinker out there.
Quick intro first!
Where are you from?
I grew up in a small village in Berkshire, but I have lived in London for almost half of my life.
If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?
Spain feels like home to me. I always wanted to study Spanish but it wasn’t offered at my school, so I took myself off to learn at the University of Salamanca for a couple of months before studying French and Spanish at university, and fell in love with everything about Spain. If you told me Spain was out of the question, I’d be pretty happy with Argentina or a Greek island too!
Tell us about a memorable food and wine pairing experience (it doesn’t have to be fancy, and it doesn’t have to involve sherry!)
The Harrow at Little Bedwyn is the first place I remember being treated to a tasting menu with paired wines, and it just seemed like the best thing ever!
If you could only have one cuisine (including beverages!) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That’s a difficult choice to narrow down to just one world cuisine, but when you throw in traditional method sparkling wines, world beating reds, whites and rosés, sherries, vermouth and giant G&Ts, there’s no contest for me – it has to be Spanish. What I particularly love about Spanish food is that it is often small plates for sharing. Sharing always appeals to me as a foodie so I can try a bit of everything, and the food and drink culture throughout Spain is so sociable. It helps that I’m a night owl so late meals aren’t a problem!
Moving onto Sherry...
Do you remember what the first sherry you tried was, and did you have any pre-conceived ideas about sherry before trying it?
I don’t remember the first sherry I tried, but suspect it was probably a taste of a fino my dad would have been drinking. Apart from that the only sherry I knew about was from working as a waitress in the local village pub, where someone would very, very occasionally order a sherry and be served something sweet in a tiny schooner glass.
Give us a little background on your career, was there something/someone in particular that got you interested in sherry?
Having moved into wine after a long-term career in finance, my passion for wine stems from my love of travel and most of my formative experiences in wine came from my family. My dad is a big dry sherry fan and we’ll often share a few glasses together as an aperitif.
If you were speaking to someone who had a negative impression of sherry (perhaps they think of it as overly sweet, or maybe because they associate it with old people or Christmas) what sherry would you give them to change their mind?
I think there are a lot of preconceptions about sherry and the main ones are that it is always sweet, that elderly relatives drink it at Christmas, or that it’s only good for putting in a trifle. I think a fino or manzanilla couldn’t be further away from that!
If you were speaking to someone who had NO idea about sherry at all, what style of sherry would you suggest to them as an ‘intro’ to the category?
I try to gauge what style of wines people like before choosing a sherry to give them if they have never tried one before. Generally I think an amontillado or oloroso is a better starting point than a fino, which might look more familiar but can be a bit too surprising on the nose and palate!
What would be your go-to, easy to make, sherry and food pairing?
A glass of fino with some olives and salted almonds is a classic pairing, doesn’t need any prep, and is always delicious.
Have you got a favourite style of sherry? Has this always been true to you, or have your tastes and opinions changed over time?
I think my tastes change with my mood! I tend to mainly drink dry sherries: a fino or manzanilla outside in the sunshine or an amontillado with a plate of chicharrones; but I’m also very partial to an oloroso and love palo cortado... Don’t make me choose!
Tricky one! Obviously sherry is a huge category in itself with such a huge range of styles, do you think this is a barrier for people/puts them off trying? Or is there something else (negative perception, confusing serves etc)
I do think there is still a negative perception about sherry, and confusion around what sherry actually is. Many consumers don’t know that there are lots of different styles of sherry. I think (hope!) that the more we can promote and educate about sherry, that this can change. Sherry cocktails seem to be becoming more popular so perhaps that is a good gateway to neat sherry and recognising the names of different styles.