Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla is a crisp dry sherry that reminded me of early evening drinks after hot sunny days on the beach or exploring historic sites.
Established in 1792, Bodegas Hidalgo is one of the oldest Sherry producers in existence, it is widely regarded as the deﬁnitive Manzanilla house. Passing down from generation to generation, continuity and quality have always been the most important themes for the company, which today uses only grapes from their own vineyards in Jérez Superior.
It’s an ideal pre-dinner drink that sharpens up the appetite ready for the delights to come and especially good paired with tapas and fish dishes for which Spain is renowned.
I first came across the idea of drinking a chilled light port before dinner on a trip to the Cape Verde Islands. The archipelago consists of ten islands some four hundred miles off the East African coast of Senegal - next stop Brazil.
Cape Verde was uninhabited until 1456 when it was discovered by Portuguese explorers, and was part of Portugal until 1975 when it became independent. On my first visit, most of the hotel guests were Portuguese and the hotel bar did a roaring pre-dinner trade in chilled light port. I was an instant convert to this delicious aperitif.
Drink it on its own or poured over ice and topped up with tonic and a fresh mint leaf. Delicious.
It also reminded me of a trip to Macao, a semi-autonomous region of China, where I was given a glass of port at the end of dinner. If this sounds strange, it is worth remembering that Macao was Portuguese for 400 years and street signs in the city centre of the city are still in Portuguese, English and Cantonese. Indeed it is claimed that the best Portuguese ‘pastel de nata’ come from a bakery in Macao that was founded by an Englishman!
This full-bodied rich traditional port is a great after-dinner drink, and is everything you want a classic Port to be, perfect with cheeses such as Stilton and ideal with dark chocolate, especially Easter Eggs.
Do you need any more excuses to try these lovely drinks?
For more information on these and many other delightful wines, visit www.mentzendorff.co.uk