Decanter travel guide: Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

This Andalucian jewel offers modern restaurants and inviting Sherry bars, not to mention unmissable bodegas. Sarah Jane Evans MW leads the way, in her Jerez travel guide.

My perfect day in Jerez

Morning

The day begins with a freshly squeezed orange juice and some fresh fruit from your hotel buffet. No need for eggs, toast or jamón – you’ll be eating these throughout the day. First call is the Mercado Central (Calle Abastos) to see what will be freshest when eating out later. Grab your morning coffee at one of the many bars clustered by the market. Order a tostada (toasted roll), con mermelada, with butter and jam, or con tomate, with olive oil and tomato. There’s always a stall selling chocolate y churros, super-thick hot chocolate, with deep-fried, sugar-sprinkled dough sticks. Walk off your breakfast by window-shopping. Apart from the chain stores, Jerez has plenty of small retailers. It’s the place for flamenco outfits and gaudy jewellery; and tweed tailoring for would-be caballeros. If you’re ready for your first winery visit, pick Fernando de Castilla or the late 18th-century cellar of Díez Mérito (diezmerito.com).

Lunch

Stop for a cold lager (a caña is a small glass) and a tapa, and people watch. That pre-lunch tapa is a necessary stop-gap here: depending on the season, lunch doesn’t start until 2.30pm or 3.30pm. Don’t hurry; you’ll notice no one else is. Afterwards, siesta time. If sleep eludes you, put your feet up and read some pages of Jerez history written by one of the great figures of the industry: Sherry: The Noble Wine by Manuel González Gordon (1935, latest edition 1990).

Afternoon

Make González Byass your afternoon visit. It is one of the few bodegas that is open after lunch, but be sure to pre-book if you want an afternoon appointment. After your visit, early evening is a lovely time to walk round the old city. Perfect for stopping and reading menus and deciding where to eat.

Evening and overnight

Dinner starts between 9pm and 10pm here and there’s lots to choose from. After, walk back to your hotel past a few bars to have a coffee or a brandy. With luck there’ll be some music and you’ll be tempted to linger.

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