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A Quick Introduction to Sherry Wine


Allow me to introduce you to a new favorite drink, Sherry Wine.

With complex flavors and a variety of styles, sherry is a fun wine to explore.

If you are a wine lover, you need to give it a look. From sweet to super dry, there’s a style for every palate.

It’s great for baking, cooking and sipping which means it’s a versatile ingredient to keep in your kitchen.

A close up of a wine glasses with Sherry and Fortified wine.

What is Sherry Wine

When I hear about Sherry Wine, it instantly makes me think of the ’70s.

It seems a little exotic because you don’t know much about it. And it’s something your chic grandma probably liked.

You often hear about it in terms of cooking. Which makes sense given its complex flavors.

So what the heck is sherry?

Sherry is a fortified wine. Which means, it’s a wine that has other spirits (often Brandy) added to it.

It can run from sweet to dry. I’m seeing it pop up on menus in restaurants and it’s made me take notice.

For it to be called sherry, it has to be made in a specific region in Spain. 

Sherries are aged in barrels with some of the aging happening under a layer of its own yeast.

The length of time aged determines what style it is and is one of the ways that sherry takes on different flavors. 

The aging process brings complexity and a variety of flavors. The flavors can include nutty notes as well as dried fruit nuances.

And the color ranges from light ambers to darker golden tones.

This is a very watered-down version of aging so if this interests you, you can learn more about it here

The alcohol content is similar to that of regular wine. 

Types of Sherries

There are different types of sherry, the most popular of which are dry. Fino, Manzanilla, and Amontillado are examples of dry sherries.

But there are many more!

You may have also heard of cream sherry. This is a sweet type of sherry that my grandmother used to enjoy.

It’s also really great in baking and I have used it in this Sherry Wine Cake

Also, they aren’t actually creamy. 

Glasses of sherry wine on a table.

How to drink sherry

Sherry can be sipped on its own, or used in cocktails.

A  serving of sherry is typically about 3 oz. and it’s great with a simple orange peel twist.

It’s great as an aperitif before a meal, but just as great for a post-dinner drink.

Drink it from a glass that is typically stemmed but has a smaller bowl than a typical wine glass.

Here are a few Sherry Cocktails to try

  • Sherry and Bitters: Add 2 1/2 oz sherry wine and 1 dash Bitters to a glass with cracked ice. Stir well and strain into a short cocktail glass. Add a twist of orange peel.
  • Sherry Flip: In a cocktail shaker add 1 egg, 1 tsp powdered sugar, 1 1/2 oz sherry wine and 2 tsp of sweet cream (if desired) and shake well. Strain into a flip glass and grate a little nutmeg on top.
  • Sherry Milk Punch: In a cocktail shaker, add 1 tsp powdered sugar, 3 oz sherry wine and 1/2 pt. milk and shake well. Strain into a Collins glass and grate nutmeg on top.

All of these recipes came from the book “Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide“.

What does sherry taste like

The taste of sherry depends on the type but they range from very similar to white wines to more flavorful and full-bodied like a port. 

The ones I prefer have caramel undertones with notes of citrus. And they remind me of fruit cake in terms of sweetness and fruitiness.

You know how spiced rum has all those yummy spice notes? It sort of reminds me of that but without the sting of a hard liquor.

In my opinion, there are more layers of flavor than you find in standard wines.

The ones I like are smooth and perfect for savoring.

How to choose a sherry

To be clear, I am not an expert. I’m just getting started with sherry.

The way I choose what to drink is to just start tasting. If I am out at a restaurant and I see one on the menu, I will order it.

I will also take a photo and research more when I get home.

I will ask servers and wine store employees (I’ll be honest, I do not usually dine where there is a sommelier present) about them to see if they know anything (most do not). 

I use the internet, but a lot of what you will read about sherry is not that helpful in terms of trying to figure out what they will taste like.

The site Sherry Notes lists tons of brands and a little bit about each to help you decide.

I also keep my eyes open as I’m reading food magazines to see if there are any stories specifically about sherry or fortified wines.

Glass of sherry on a table next to a bowl of nuts.

What to drink with sherry

Sherry, because there are so many styles and flavor profiles are really great to pair with food.

But it is a little harder for a novice to create a pairing given the variety of flavors you can find in sherry.

I typically sip my sherry before dinner because I like the flavor on its own. But it’s also great to enjoy with a bowl of nuts. 

A sweeter variety would go well with dessert, but the dry ones go really well with charcuterie. 

Olive Magazine has a great article on what to serve with sherry.

I highly recommend you keeping your eyes out for information about sherry wine. It’s such a delicious drink to sip on any time of year.

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Close up of glasses with sherry and text overlay.

If you haven’t tried sherry wine yet, what are you waiting for!? It’s getting popular and it’s a fun, flavorful new wine to try.

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