I’ve been interested in wine for as long as I can remember. I was the kid who would ask my mom for a sip at dinner, and knew that Châteauneuf-du-Pape was ‘the good stuff’ by the time I was 12. Not that this interest stopped me from rights of passage like Boone’s Farm and getting sick from Carlo Rossi Jug Wine (mesh trash cans are NOT awesome). To pinpoint the moment in time I realized I was a total wine geek, we have to go Spain . . .
When I turned 16 my Grandmother decided it was time for her and I to go on our first solo vacation. A worldly traveler and lover of food and drink, my Grandma gets credit for inspiring my love of diverse international cultures. As a 16-year-old in Europe for the first time I took advantage of the lax drinking culture, using my Spanish to ask for beers and wine at every opportunity. But it was my grandma who properly introduced me to the world of thoughtful drinking. “We’re going for tapas” she told me one afternoon. As we walked into the restaurant I noticed I was the only awkward teenager among sophisticated adults. We took a seat at the bar and she ordered us two copitas of Jerez, olives and manchego cheese. “This is what you do…have a sip of the chilled Sherry and a bite of cheese. It’s a lovely way of eating!”
Sherry is a highly acquired taste and even among the wine drinking community, it’s not for everyone. But for me it was love at first sip! I loved everything about it, the cold almondy dryness of the slightly salty wine with the sharp, tangy cheese; it was perfection! I loved the way the small glasses of wine meant an evening of eating, drinking and conviviality going on for hours. I loved the setting — chic and classy. I knew this was something special, and that I wanted to be a part of it.
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Now, as a professional wine educator, I’m proud to say that I’ve been a lover of Sherry for over a decade. Teaching Spanish wines was my entrance into the professional world of wine, and introducing people to Sherry remains one of my greatest thrills. Being comfortable with wines outside of most people’s comfort zones has become one of my trademarks, and I take pride in bringing new and exciting flavors into the light. From my love of fortified wines to amber wines of Slovenia, it all began with my first sip of Sherry with Grams in Spain.
Tess Rose Lampert has been a long time lover of travel and international food and beverage cultures. She currently works as a beverage educator and writer based in New York City. Visit www.PalateTrip.com to learn more.