10 Things to Know About Sherry Today

Not just your grandma's guilty pleasure, sherry is now one of the trendiest beverages on the menu

Not just your grandma’s guilty pleasure, sherry is now one of the trendiest beverages on the menu

There is an undeniable buzz about sherry around foodie circles… at swanky parties, on trendy bar menus, and in the reports of the literati of gastronomy. Sherry is fast becoming one of the most popular sips in town.

Here are 10 things you need to know about sherry so that you can truly appreciate what this diverse drink has to offer…

1. Sherry is a wine. It is fortified with grape spirit, but it is still a wine and not a spirit.

2. Sherry is from Jerez (pronounced: hair-eth), a city in southern Spain. It is only sherry if it comes from Jerez. The neighbouring region of Montilla-Moriles produces similar wines, and just about all the Pedro Ximénez grapes for Jerez (this is one of the major grape varieties used in certain styles of sherry). That said, Montilla-Moriles wines still can’t technically be called sherry, yet they’re certainly worth trying 

3. There are several styles of sherry–from pale, light-bodied, bone dry, savoury ones such as a Manzanilla or a Fino, to the darker, more full-bodied, nuttier expressions of an Oloroso. In between, we find the complex nuances of an Amontillado and a Palo Cortado. Cream sherries are blends of such styles that are sweetened with naturally sweet wine or concentrated grape must. Of course, there is the decadently sweet dessert wine Pedro Ximénez that is named after the grape used to produce it. Enjoy it with a bowl of vanilla ice cream and you’ll never forget what harmony tastes like.

4. With so many styles of sherry, there is hardly a dish in the world that cannot find a sherry to match. In fact, hard-to-pair foods like artichokes and asparagus taste fabulous with a sip of an umami-rich sherry, like an Amontillado.

5. When there is an indication of age on the bottle, such as 20 years or 30 years, that is the average age of the wine in the bottle. The blend could contain wines that are very young, as well as those that have aged for several decades.

6. Sherry is also used as a ingredient in many recipes. From piping stews to creamy puddings, sherry adds that touch of oomph that we tend to crave. Just remember to use the right kind of sherry though. Unless specified in a recipe, use a sweet cream sherry for desserts or sweeter sauces. A fish broth however, might prefer a Fino, while an Oloroso would certainly enhance a braised beef casserole.

7. Mixologists love the versatility of sherry as it makes a great addition to cocktails. Experiment with it and have fun creating your own signature drink.

8. Sherries are generally bottled at optimum maturity and do not age further in the bottle. So if you have a sherry on hand, enjoy it! There is no advantage to cellaring it for years.

9. While Finos and Manzanillas sherries are delicate and need to be served and stored like a white wine, others have longer shelf lives and can keep in a refrigerator for up to two months.

10. Globally, sherry is one of the trendiest sips today. With its exponential spike in popularity, there are sherry bars popping up in food-centric cities. Many wine-conscious restaurants now include a selection of sherries on wine lists, providing great opportunities to experiment before investing in a whole bottle.

Mark your calendars to explore the International Sherry Week, running this year from October 8th to 14th. Restaurants host sherry-themed dinners, bars organize exclusive sherry specials and fans throw sherry parties in their homes.

With these basics under your belt, you are now ready to step out confidently, order your sherry and experience the buzz for yourself.