The Cask (Bottle) of Amontillado

Starting in my youth (and even nowadays), I’d find an author I liked, and I’d read everything the author wrote. I started off with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries, then moved on to Edgar Allen Poe. One of his most famous and fascinating short stories is “The Cask of Amontillado,” where he lures an already intoxicated “friend” who has deeply wronged him to the cellars deep beneath his grand home on the premise he has located a rare cask of Amontillado wine. He gets him even drunker, chains him up in an alcove, then builds a new wall, sealing him there forever.

So, I’ve always had a curiosity about this wine for ages. Terri and I were out grocery shopping the other day, and I saw a bottle of authentic  Amontillado from Spain, and thought “Hey, now’s our chance to try this!” So, with much anticipation, we bought the bottle and brought it home. Amontillado is a type of Sherry; there are seven different types: manzanilla, fino, amontillado, oloroso, palo cortado, cream and Pedro Ximenez. Some Sherry’s are aperitifs, to be enjoyed before a meal; others are served with food; and others are served as a dessert wine. 

Years ago, we stayed at an awesome Bed and Breakfast in northern California, and they offered a wine in the evening we quite enjoyed. We had thought it was a Port, but later found out it was a Sherry. We’ve been searching for it for years, and had hoped that this Amontillado was THE one.

We opened the bottle with great anticipation, swirled the wine, and appreciated the nose redolent of almonds. We tasted it, and Whoa, Charlie! This was NOT the wine we had hoped for; I normally like dry wines, but this bordered on astriginent. Terri took three sips, and was done. I stuck with it and finished the small pour, but it didn’t seem to improve. Sadly, it looks like this bottle is going to be (another) bottle of Sherry used for cooking.

Have you had a different experience with Sherry? Let me know! (But if you invite us over for a tasting of a rare Amontillado in your basement, we will probably decline).

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