If you keep one wine in your store cupboard, or better yet your wine cellar, make it this one. Sherry fell out of favour in recent years, mainly because of sickly sweet varieties which saturated the market in the 60s and 70s.
Thankfully, we’re now waking up to the delights of sherry as the utterly unique, delicious and versatile drink it is. And Pedro Ximenez is the most useful sherry around.
An intensely sweet and dark dessert wine, Ximenez is made by drying grapes under the hot Spanish sunshine to concentrate the sweetness. The result is a thick, unctuous wine which can cope with just about any dessert.
In fact, it pretty much smells like a dessert in a glass. You’ll get sweet notes of dried fruits like raisins and figs accompanied with the likes of honey, coffee, dark chocolate and liquorice.
In the mouth, Ximenez is like velvet; sweet and syrupy but with enough acidity to give complexity.
What to pair with Ximenez
Chocolate and wine are notoriously difficult to pair together. While many people try with a red wine like a Pinot Noir or a Cabernet Sauvignon, these with chocolate are a match made in foodie hell. Chocolate gives you a richness on the palate, some fattiness and sweetness, but a dry red wine takes all the fat and sweetness away leaving a sour flavour. Plus, the chocolate will mean you can’t taste the fruity flavours in the wine.
Instead, the key is to pair sweetness with sweetness when it comes to chocolate. Vintage Port and Madeira from Portugal is one option, but a better one is a Ximenez which brings out the natural sweetness of the chocolate, while also cleansing your palate so you’re ready to enjoy your next cocoa-infused bite.
Go for a young version of Ximenez for a rich chocolate dessert like a fondant or a brownie. Younger PXs also partner well with sweet pancakes or, if you’re more of a cheese board fiend than a dessert fan, with cheeses infused with herbs, spices or chilli.
If you prefer desserts which aren’t so in-your-face as pure chocolate puddings, then look for older PX. The syrupy flavours will complement those of a crème brulee, a cheesecake or a panna cotta. It is also perfect for those who love their cheese blue, blue, blue.
Ximenez is also the ideal store cupboard staple if you have the sort of friends or family who tend to drop in unexpectedly.
All you need is some ice cream and a drizzle of Ximenez over the top. Keep a tub of vanilla or rum n raisin in the freezer and a bottle of Ximenez in the cupboard and you’re sorted; you can create a spectacular dessert in a minute.
Or, you could just curl up on the sofa with a square of dark chocolate and a glass of Ximenez. Perfect.