Fino is a beautifully delicate style of Sherry and one that demands to be drunk whilst fresh and young. Having been lucky enough to have visited Jerez where I tried Fino straight from the barrel, and having enjoyed Gonzalez Byass’ Fino En Rama – a very fresh lightly filtered style within a month of it being shipped, – I can contest that fresher really is better when it comes to Fino.
Until now it has not been easy to tell whether the Fino you are enjoying is a freshly shipped bottle or one that has been sat gathering dust on a shelf for quite some time. But from this month (September 2012) good ol’ Gonzalez Byass has introduced the date of bottling onto the back of each bottle of Tio Pepe Fino shipped to the UK, so you know it’s fresh. I can tell that my bottle was bottled on the 13th of August and I am enjoying it at its very best within just a month of bottling. They recommend you enjoy the Fino within 12 months of bottling and fairly soon after opening, treat it like a delicate white wine and don’t keep it open for too long. If you really struggle to finish a bottle of Fino within a few days, invite a few friends round to help you out (I very rarely say no to Sherry), experiment cooking with it – or try the half bottles.
So why does freshness matter. Whereas Olorosos seem like they can last forever, this is because they have been aged oxidatively and therefore won’t spoil with further contact with oxygen. Fino on the other hand is an incredibly delicate wine that has been aged biologically, with a layer of bready yeast called flor protecting it from oxygen and imparting an unmistakable tang, which makes it a phenomenal match to a range of different savoury and salty foods – jamón, crab, salted almonds take your pick.
Tio Pepe Fino sherry is available from all major retailers, with an RRP of £9.47 for 75cl