Opinion: How do you sell Sherry?

Drinks: Fortified, Sherry, Wines
Location: Europe, Spain
Other: Opinion

Everyone in the wine trade loves Sherry, but customers just don’t get it. Hakkasan lists 5 Sherries, and I’m sure the only time we open a bottle is for training. However, March saw the opening of London’s first dedicated Sherry bar.

Bar Pepito is an offshoot of Richard Bigg’s Camino  in King’s Cross. It’s a tiny, brick-walled room, full of atmosphere with bins of Sherry across one end, high stools clustered round barrel-tops, and a simple menu of tapas. I went on ‘soft-opening’ night and loved it. We had a plate of delicious jamon and a glass or 3 of Apostoles Palo Cortado, no wait a minute, it was Tio Pepe. Or was it Fernando de Castilla? Anyway, Bar Pepito is brilliant.

Richard certainly knows what he’s doing, so I assumed his Sherry sales at Camino must be so good he needed a Sherry bar to cope with demand. Well, actually, no. Richard admits that Sherry’s a very tough sell, even for a thoroughly Spanish joint like Camino. But he loves Sherry, and hopes Bar Pepito will encourage people to experiment. With plenty of Sherries by the glass that should be possible.

It made me reconsider what we do at Hakkasan, and I think ‘by-glass’ is our next move. Sherry is so good with the food at Hakkasan, but if it’s a hard sell at Camino, tempting customers to try it with Chinese cuisine will be like climbing Everest!

About Author

Christine Parkinson

Christine Parkinson started her career in the kitchen, and moved into management after 3 years as Head Chef. Responsibility for 39 restaurants eventually convinced her to follow her passion and concentrate on wine. In 2001 Christine created the first wine list for Hakkasan, and later became Wine Buyer for the group, which includes the Michelin-starred restaurants Hakkasan and Yauatcha, with operations in London, Miami and (soon) Abu Dhabi. She has been called “one of the most creative wine buyers in the UK” by wine guru Jancis Robinson, and recently received the ‘Taste On-Trade Influencer Award, in association with Imbibe’. When not on the phone to suppliers, she is often out on a motorbike, and is therefore probably responsible for most of the UK’s bad weather.

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