As a recent guest attending Samuel and Samantha Clark’s restaurant, Moro in Clerkenwell, London, I returned much mellowed by an evening of Moorish cooking and a tasting of their tally of comprehensive and exciting Sherries from the wine list.

Something of an epic evening, but thanks to our host a Spaniard from the Sherry Institute, we were treated to a range of sherry styles that partnered each of our six courses that night.

In the main Sherry often gets a mediocre press here in Britain, and to my mind this is clearly undeserved.

My first memories of Sherry share similar fates. The first was my principally teetotal parents providing the occasional Christmas visitor with the offer of a glass of Sherry. This was kept in what only my generation can remember was an item of furniture known as a side-board. This was normally situated in what my parents called the sitting room, although we were only allowed to sit in it at Christmas when the obligatory Auntie arrived. Within this huge piece of furniture nestled a lone decanter into which had been poured a rather ordinary off-licence Sherry. Not every year were we graced with a visiting relative, but the Sherry did not go to waste, it was simply kept for the following festive season. Heaven knows what it might have tasted like by then but it may explain the diminishing visitation of Aunties. The second experience was on leaving the collegiate halls of University in London where my head of department was the famed sculptor of the Churchill statue opposite the House of Commons. So there we sat in his studio cum office, him apparently flushed with the popularity of his recent commission and me being awarded a scholarship. This solemn occasion was interrupted by my tutor reaching into the bottom of a file drawer to produce a bottle of the aforementioned tipple and two slightly sticky glasses. For me this heralded the arrival of a grown-up world, for him, as I later discovered, it was by now approaching his third schooner of the morning.

Suffice to say Sherry was consigned to these unexciting and eccentric memories for many years.

I am pleased to report though, and many thanks to establishments like Moro’s for their persistence and understanding of this wine, that things are appearing to change. Within the esoteric world of independent wine merchants, Sherry has long been seen as a shamefully neglected wine treasure.

A great deal pf Sherry emanates from one of the oldest wine-producing towns in Spain – Jerez (pronounced Hereth). The city sits within throwing distance of North Africa, in one of the hottest most Southerly Spanish regions – Andalucia. An area occupied by the Moors for seven centuries, with architectural echoes of its rich Islamic culture to be seen in Seville, Cordoba and Grenada.

Most Sherries are made from three indigenous grape varietals, Palomino, Muscat of Alexandria and Pedro Ximenes, with Palomino accounting for around 95% of all Sherry styles. These styles divide into two main types of Sherry the first includes Fino and Manzanilla which both deliver pale, crisp, crackling dry palate cleansing wines both at around 15.% alcohol and best enjoyed well chilled.

The production of Fino involves the first part of the mystery and magic of Sherry via an airbourne yeast called flor, indigenous to the area. Staring into the fermentation vat before fortification, reminds one of that gorgeous froth seen in the early stages of beer brewing.

Fino from Jerez proves no better partner to the local seafood or spicy tapas, whereas Manzanilla, matured in the nearby coastal area of Sanlúcar often carries the salty whiff of sea air on the nose

The other major style includes Dry Amontillado and Dry Oloroso with their nuances reminiscent of chestnuts and light caramel and tend to work best as autumn approaches – even when chilled.

One additional wine is the sweet, dark, nutty ‘Mince Pies in a bottle’ from the Pedro Ximenes (PX) grape. Again, this is in my opinion one of the most underrated dessert wines around, and well worth a try at the end of a meal, at Moro it is gently poured over vanilla ice-cream to make a sumptuous pudding.

When searching out your Sherry, look to the back label for authenticity. Sherry is the English corruption of Jerez.  Whilst in France they have chosen the term Xérès. All guarantees to the origin of the wine will show the words Jerez, Xérès or Sherry on the bottle. One other magical, almost medieval system that creates this wonderful wine is known as the Solera system, or fractional blending. In simple terms this is best imagined as a pyramid of barrels with a proportion of older sherries passed into other barrels below whilst at the same time being topped up with the newer wine abone. This is simply undertaken to maintain a consistency of blend as Sherry rarely carries a vintage. This method, in theory at least, creates a wine that may well carry traces and tastes of century old wines.

So whatever your choice be sure that the alcoholic strength is no less than 15.% and that when in doubt serve your Sherry chilled.  And please do not leave it a year in my parents side-board before serving.