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What wine goes with olives? Add to ...

The question

Is there a wine that goes with olives?

The answer

Yes, it’s called gin. Maybe not the answer you were looking for, but I feel obliged to extend the horizon when it comes to one of the world’s great foodstuffs.

I consume my share of olives and gin, often together. This necessitates that I also regularly partake of multivitamins and engage in vigorous cycling when weather permits. Olives offer little in the way of nutrition. Gin amounts to a whole lot of empty calories. (Note: Never cycle on gin; it’s the same as driving, and you don’t want to go there.)

Some martini aficionados insist a twist of lemon is the authentic garnish. They make a good historical case, and I won’t argue – but I favour olives.

The best wine for olives, especially very briny green olives, is dry sherry. I must stress the “dry” part, as in the styles called fino and manzanilla. These are bone-dry whites, fortified only slightly above the typical table-wine alcohol level of 13 per cent. (Finos and manzanillas tend to hover between 15 and 17 per cent.) Their flavours suggest salty air, petroleum and herbs. It’s an acquired taste, but in Spain, olive capital of the world, olives and dry sherry are like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, an iconic couple.

Should you prefer to venture further afield into the land of lower-alcohol table wines, I’d suggest something light, white and very crisp. Most Spanish, Italian, Greek and Portuguese whites – excepting chardonnay – will do nicely.

Follow me on Twitter: @Beppi_Crosariol

The Flavour Principle, a new cookbook and drinks compendium by Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol, was named best Canadian Food & Drinks Book in the 2014 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. In bookstores everywhere. Published by HarperCollins.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

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Follow on Twitter: @Beppi_Crosariol

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