Perfect Pairings: Marcona Almonds and Don Zoilo 12 Year Oloroso Sherry

Don't mind if I do.
Don't mind if I do.
Photo by Kate McLean
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The magic of sherry-drinking occurs when you’re a few sips in, on an empty stomach, and that warm, happy feeling washes over the senses. That’s because it’s a fortified wine—which means it’s had a distilled spirit added to it— which means it’s stronger. Turn the music up y'all, this is about to get good.


Where would we be without them. Marcona almonds are an especially good nut-snack; they fill you up— and that's not all bad. Sometimes Marcona almonds can be substituted for an entire meal. They are all the calories you need and then some.

Marcona almonds are plumper and more tan than regular almonds. Once blanched, the skins are removed and they’re fried in olive oil. Next, a magical fairy rains sea salt down from salt mountain upon them. Though you can literally see the salt on Marcona almonds, they always need more. Because they are fried in olive oil, it makes them slippery, i.e. salt ends up everywhere except the nut.

If anyone tries to tell you that you can roast them in a little sprinkle of olive oil and it’s healthier, they are wrong and you should get away from them. Marcona almonds are delicious, expensive, and worth it.

Oloroso sherry has a good weight to it, while still being light and biscuity.  The Don Zoilo 12 year is a great interpretation for beginners (I'm a beginner, too.) There are different styles of sherry ranging from crisp and light, Fino's and Manzanilla's, to more complex and sometimes sticky sweet, Oloroso's and Pedro Ximénez. It all comes down to whether the flor, a film of natural occurring yeast that is native to the microclimate within bodegas in Jerez, is intact while the juice ferments.  The flor, more or less protects the spirit, producing a delicate, nuanced version of the Palomino grape.  If the flor is broken, or the spirit is allowed to age without, the wine oxidizes and begins to take on denser, nutty flavors.  Kind of like dating guys in their twenties versus dating guys in their late thirties. A maturation naturally occurs that only age and experience can bring about. 

The complex nuttiness of the Oloroso 12 year aligns perfectly with Marcona almonds. It's like they both did the 23andMe DNA testing and found out they had the same dad. Except Oloroso identifies as a spirit and Marcona is indeed, a nut.  Go ahead, pull a Mr. Rogers and once you've changed into your house sweater; relax with a goblet of sherry and a bowl of Marcona almonds.

Don Zoilo 12 year Oloroso can be found at Spec's Midtown for $30 a bottle. Marcona almonds typically run a little less than $20 a pound and can be found at H-E-B, Central Market and Whole Foods.

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