Updated: Mar 20
November 2-8 is National Sherry week. During this week, this special wine is praised and widely represented. During this unique international celebration, Sherry wines are showcased through public and private tastings, lectures, masterclasses, and other events. All the events are represented by bars, restaurants, bodegas, tabancos, and wine shops around the world. As a result of this event I've interviewed Fabiola Bonke; one of the two Venenciadors from the Netherlands.
The Venenciadors; on the right Fabiola Bonkers.
How did your Sherry journey begin? Was Sherry a
the well known phenomenon to you or not?
I had my own Spanish specialty catering company/cooking studio and started offering more and more wine/food pairings courses. I needed to educate myself and followed wine courses (SDEN 1,2 and 3 and then WSET advanced level 3). From that point on my passion for fortified wines grew, especially for Sherry. In 2009 there was a generic Sherry campaign in the Netherlands with an appeal for a Venenciador training (traditional Sherry connoisseur). From that specific moment, I was hooked on Sherry!
Why is Sherry so dear to you?
Sherry is so incredibly versatile and in terms of styles, so diverse that the gastronomic wine/food options are endless. I also love the Andalusian temperament, which is reflected in all Sherry styles.
Why is Sherry different in comparison to normal wine?
First of all, because it is a fortified wine. It is wine and not everyone realizes that but also because of the unique taste sensations, the entire unique vinification process, and of course the magic of the flor.
The mystery called; Flor
You love it or you hate it. How come Sherry has gone through different phases?
Indeed… '' you love it or you hate it '', although I tell people that everyone likes 1 style of Sherry. During tastings, you have the fans for the dry varieties and other fans who love the sweet varieties. The "bad" image is because Sherry was very popular in the period between 1960-1980. However… the quality was not so good and there were only two styles known in the Netherlands. To make things worse, Sherry suddenly got a dusty image so the Sherry hype was quick. Unfortunately, people are still referring to this. However, people don't really know anything about Sherry and should come and taste it on specific Sherry tastings organized by a Sherry expert. The unknown makes unloved or not?
Is Sherry a wine that you only drink and pair with a dessert or can you also combine Sherry with normal food?
They are (not is!) gastronomic pairing wines because there are more than 10 sherry styles! From bone-dry to velvety sweet, and that means that you can present a different Sherry style with each cover. The international biennial Copa Jerez wine/food competition is a high-end example of this.
You have 10 styles of Sherry. Pick your battle!
Are you 1 of the 2 Venenciadors in the Netherlands?
Yes, I am currently one of the two educated Dutch Venenciadores. There were five of us at first, but the others are no longer active for various personal reasons. We are the only officially certified Venenciadores in Europe (outside Spain of course).
Can you explain what a Venenciadors ''does'' and how you can achieve such a title?
A Venenciador is a Sherry pourer who directly taps Sherry from the Sherry barrel and pours it in a special way in the wine glass (formerly a copita = sherry glass). The instrument that a Venenciador uses is a Venencia. A long, flexible “stick” with a cylindrical tube attached to it, in which you can tap and pour 50 cl of sherry from the barrel at a time. A Venenciador shows this art on all kinds of festive occasions, but it is officially the way in which a cellar master/winemaker tastes, approves, and ranks his wines on a daily basis. A beautiful pouring method is a form of decantation. After us, there were no more courses offered to follow in the Netherlands.
November 2-8 is Sherry week. What does this mean for you?
Sherry week is the way for me to put Sherry in the spotlight once a year internationally. It is also my “baby” because it was partly created by a group of international passionate Sherry educators, of which I am one of them. This year we celebrate International Sherry Week for the seventh time! A Sherry educator is therefore a Sherry specialist, and therefore also an ambassador for Sherry wines. Every year, two virologists are selected in the Netherlands by the Spanish embassy.
Urium; the premium Sherry I have tasted this week.
What can we expect with Sherry week?
Unfortunately, this year will not go as it's supposed to be due to Covid-19. Normally, various Sherry events are organized by, for example, restaurants, cocktail bars, and or Sherry educators.
Who are your favorite producers? Which qualities do you think these wine producers should possess?
Sherry quality is high. Various wine importers do have a nice quality Sherry bodega. These are usually for sale at high-quality specialty stores. I'm fond of a lot of different bodegas, but I have a warm relationship with bodegas Urium, Yuste, and Baron.
Where can we find your wines? Do you also give courses?
I can deliver the above Sherry houses. I also work with various importers and can therefore also deliver to your home address. I also give Sherry courses if you come with a fixed group starting with 6 persons. If interested, you can send me an e-mail with all your wishes. Unfortunately, we don't start any courses at the moment because of Covid-19. But we have a phrase in Holland that goes: ''What is in the barrel does not sour!'' Patience is a virtue!
Color: Dark nutty caramel
Smell: Sharp and delicate fragrance with hints of marine elements and almonds which are reminiscent of camomile and bread yeast.
Taste: Fresh and delicate. Smooth and light in the mouth with a dry long finish and saline notes. Long-lasting and slightly bitter aftertaste.
Grape: Palomino Fino
Want to learn more about Sherry? Follow this week all events related to Sherry here
Follow Fabiola Bonke here
Want to buy one of Fabiola's Sherry? Go here