Campaign gives a toast to sherry

Caitlan Reeg Sep 30, 2009

Campaign gives a toast to sherry

Caitlan Reeg Sep 30, 2009


Kai Ryssdal: Remember the glory days of “Sex and the City” when Cosmos were cool? Or when Pinot Noir became hip after that movie “Sideways” came out? Wine producers in Spain are trying to make another beverage the “new” new thing. One that is probably gathering dust right now in your grandma’s cupboard. Marketplace’s Caitlan Carroll has the story.

CAITLAN CARROLL: OK, when I say sherry. What do you think of?

MUSIC: Sherry, sherry baby.

Uh, not that.

TYLER COLMAN: Professors gathering on a Friday afternoon in tweed jackets with padded elbows.

Yeah, more like that. Tyler Colman edits the blog He says sherry has an image problem.

COLMAN: Its image is a bit older than a lot of other wines that are seen as more fun and accessible. It’s a bit of an acquired taste.

But not one most people have acquired. I had never tasted it. So I went to the Wine Exchange in Orange, Calif., and met up with Tristen Beamon — the general manager there.

TRISTEN BEAMON: Anyway, so this is light vino…

Beamon fills my wine glass with a golden-colored sherry. This isn’t the super sweet kind you drink out of tiny glasses. It can be served like Chardonnay or Cabernet. You know, with dinner or appetizers. And it comes from Spain, so it’s especially good with Mediterranean food.

BEAMON: Because it is that aperitif that you have with olives and nuts and tapas.

But most people don’t think of sherry this way. So the Spanish government has launched a million-dollar image campaign. It’s trying to get the wine in the hands of celebrity chefs and on cocktail lists at trendy bars.

And a music video wouldn’t hurt. Remember what hip hop did for Cognac and Cristal?

BEAMON: You couldn’t even keep Cristal in stock. It was that popular. And it’s not a cheap wine. It’s a very expensive champagne, you know?

A good bottle of sherry can cost less than $20, making it affordable for younger consumers. A recent study from the Wine Council shows people in their 20s and 30s are embracing wine in a big way.

JESSE PORTER: I mean we really love learning about we’re drinking to a degree that I don’t think previous generations of our age group have at all been interested in.

Jesse Porter runs a weekly tasting group called “Young Winos.” He thinks sherry’s retro associations may also pay off.

PORTER: Absolutely, I mean, you know, it’s kinda the “Mad Men” thing. People love nostalgia. People love things that have been resurrected from previous generations.

But this time, you can skip the tweed jackets with padded elbows.

In Los Angeles, I’m Caitlan Carroll for Marketplace.

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