Some may say there are many perks of the wine merchant’s job, but for me the one that comes top of the list is travelling.

By travelling I don’t mean the dreary hours spent in airports or the 4 a.m. starts in a mini-cab.

No, it is the travel within the selected country or region that one has selected to visit that is so fascinating and so revealing.

I have been fortunate to have travelled to many wine regions over the years, some under my own steam, some by invitation and many by those formerly wealthy trade departments of the world’s embassies, The Commercial Department. One regular demand of my attentions used to arrive from a charming little group in the Spanish Embassy. Why they thought my appraisal of their wines was particularly worthy of note I have never quite fathomed, but I always felt it would be impolite to refuse their invitations.

The office was peppered with a motley crew of eager Brits with dodgy Spanish accents and a host of tanned, elegant ladies and gentlemen from the likes of Andalucía or Barcelona with what appeared to be perfect Spanish accents. One or more would accompany a ragged group of wine-writers, sommeliers and wine merchants on various trips to expose Spain in the distant hope that we in turn would act as ambassadors here. As you may imagine the early morning greeting of complete strangers at airports can be an odd sensation and usually begins with the embarrassed examination of many cards held like prison photos in front of numerous chests, announcing their position or company. ‘Wine Trip’ was one I especially remembered held aloft by a raven-haired Madrilenan lady and it took me some time to battle through excited male travellers who thought their Christmases had all arrived at once. 2 or 3 days of intense work, stunning tapas and hundreds of kilometres later we would all mellow to one big family.

The interest and stimulation which drew us to one philosophical area was not just the shared opinions of the wines we tasted at every stop, but the simple engagement with the rural economies that provided these delights from farm to vine, grape to barrel and bottle to glass.

After a Cava conference in San Saduri de Noya in Penedes, the annual Tempranillo judgements in Navarra and the vineyard walks in the baked red desserts of La Mancha, I thought I was confidently burying into the essence of that complex jigsaw we see as Spanish Wine.

But nothing came as quite the shock I was to find in Jerez (pronounced Hereth) the unofficial capital of the Sherry triangle near the south west tip of Spain’s Atlantic coastline. On a whirlwind visit that include the other two famous towns of Sancular and El Puerto de Santa Maria I was to be forcibly exposed to some of the most surprising and demanding taste styles found in the wine world. I and my colleague Derek have both covered this topic in this column so I will avoid repetition if I can. However, what became a seminal moment all those years ago has bounced back to me in recent weeks.

After numerous sampling in various Bodegas around Jerez, I found myself waxing lyrical over the vast range of tastes and their heaven sent ability to accompany the most demanding of local foods, Manzanilla with anchovies and grilled sardines, Amontillado with Manchego cheese, Fino with salted almonds and chillies as well as Pedro Ximenes with chocolate, the list is almost endless. So it was, as I floated back to our red hot Renault Espace with my sated colleagues, our mutual conversation turned to exposing such delights on our return to England.

How do we help bury that month old decanter harbouring tired flat Sherry and replace perception with ice-cold Manzanilla or Pedro Ximenes, poured over Vanilla ice-cream.

We all pledged to become ambassadors raise the flag, and write the book! What a book it would be, pick the best Sherries and ask the finest chefs to partner their signature dishes, I got there too late – but the Sherry Institute didn’t .

In 2007 they published a stunning edition called ‘The Perfect Marriage – The Art of Matching Food and Sherry Wines’. Here was the book we all wish we’d written. What was to offset my tardy disappointment was that all these years later, I was to be rewarded with a return visit after the granting of a Sherry Bursary as the novice ambassador of Sherry in East Anglia – given in my absence with no interview and certainly no warning. I was elated. What added to my excitement was receipt of a box of copies of the aforementioned book to be distributed during forthcoming local Sherry tastings here in Norfolk (details available by e-mail).

Permission was also granted to send out these copies, with a foreword by Heston Blumenthal no less, to a few EDP readers. So the first twelve e-mails with an address; referenced ‘Sherry Book’, will receive a complimentary copy by return.