November 24, 2004

Alvear 2000 Montilla Moriles Fino en Rama

Imported by Jorge OrdoƱez Selections/Giuliana Imports. Boulder, CO; about $12.

For me, sherry - a dry fino - is a necessity around the holidays. Its high acidity helps keep the appetite up; its nutty, salty flavors are addictive next to a bowl of salted nuts or chips.

Some people find dry sherries too salty, too strange, which is why you might want to try a Montilla instead. The 275-year-old company Alvear is the master of this obscure appellation, east and inland of Jerez, Spain, where sherry is made. They use only Pedro Ximenez for this wine, a grape that gets prodigiously ripe in the region's heat, but they let it ferment until the resulting wine is dry as toast. The result is more delicate and less sharp than sherry, yet still offers palate-sparking acidity.

It's also terrific with leftover turkey stew, especially if you add a splash to the soup bowls just before serving.

This recommendation originally appeared in the Denver Post.

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