When someone mentions sherry you immediately think of your gran having a glass of sweet cream sherry at Christmas, but it's had a bit of a renaissance in recent years and there’s so much more to sherry than putting it in a trifle! With the rise in popularity of tapas restaurants in the UK, we've really developed a taste for one of Spain’s most famous liquid exports. But where to begin if you’re unfamiliar?
If you've often asked yourself, “What is the best sherry for cooking or drinking?” then we’ve got everything you need to know. We’ve scrutinised all the dry, medium and extra dry sherry offerings from supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Waitrose to bring you the best dry sherry brands so you can find your next favourite tipple. Read on to find out more!
As one of the oldest wines in the world, sherry has been shipped to the UK and enjoyed by many for centuries. It is made in the far south of Spain where extreme summer heat is tempered by cooling breezes from the Atlantic; this plus the yeast and barrel-ageing process result in many complex-tasting wines.
All sherry is from the recognised DO (Denominacion de Origin) of Jerez y Sanlúcar de Barrameda on the west coast of Andalusia and is made only from the Palomino, Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez green grape varieties. Similar to Champagne and Stilton, anything produced out of this area is not legally allowed to be called "sherry".
The nutty, earthy and sometimes savoury notes of dry sherries are a far cry from the sweet and creamy sherries we know from our childhoods. They make an excellent aperitif and complement a wide range of flavours in the dishes you cook.
If you’re totally new to dry sherry, it can seem a bit overwhelming to know where to begin. That’s why we’ve pulled everything you need to know into a handy buying guide. You’ll soon know your Amanzanilla from your Oloroso, so keep reading to learn all about this delicious fortified wine.
Sherry is actually a generic term, and if you were to go into a bar in Andalusia and ask for a sherry they'd be fairly confused as they call sherry by its type. Each different type has a range of flavours that come from both their grape blend and how they were aged, and the results vary so much that there's sure to be a variety to suit everyone! Here's what you can expect from each one.
The Fino style is perhaps the most straightforward and widely available dry sherry and is often associated with the flavours of bread, fresh herbs and almonds. It is aged in barrels under a film of its own yeast called a flor, which gives just enough exposure to the air to develop its flavours.
Fino is a good and fairly inexpensive first introduction to the world of dry sherries, and is best served chilled and enjoyed with some delicious tapas.
Manzanilla is very similar to Fino in the respect that it is aged in barrels under a layer of natural flor, but Manzanilla sherry is only made in the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Like Fino, its flavours are reminiscent of bread and camomile and is best served chilled. It goes especially well with olives, fish, seafood and Jamón Serrano.
Amontillado sherry is a bit darker than Fino or Manzanilla, as after it has aged under its flor it is then cask-aged to expose it to more oxygen. This gives the finished product a darker, tawny appearance and a deeper woodsy, nutty and fruity flavour.
Rather than lighter dishes and seafood, this means that it is best paired with slightly richer foods such as grilled mushrooms, white meat, chorizo, cheese and pâté.
Palo Cortado has a flavour that is difficult to place, and on the nose is similar to an Amontillado but it drinks more like an Oloroso. Its origins are unclear, and it is a wine that happens more by accident than by actively producing it.
It is created like a Fino sherry, but unplanned yeast activity changes its flavour profile to give a lighter version of an Oloroso. It is often described as buttery and nutty with a full body, flavours of dried fruits and a salty tang, and is delicious paired with grilled fish, sausages, aged cheese and dried meats.
Oloroso sherry is aged the longest of all the dry sherries, but rather than being aged under its flor, it is aged primarily in casks to concentrate the flavour. The result is a dark wine, that, while being naturally dry, gives a roundness and an impression of sweetness.
The flavour profile is dense and rich and is reminiscent of toasted walnuts, balsamic and tobacco. It is fantastic paired with hearty game, red meats, and well-aged cheeses.
Dry sherry is delicious enough on its own, but if you want to pair it with food you should always take heed of the tasting notes on the bottle to get a truly fantastic pairing.
While we’ve touched on the different food pairings with the various types of sherry above, there is one point worth remembering – the same type of sherry can vary in flavour between producers, so you may find that one maker's sherry is more suited to your dish than another even though they produce the same type.
It also comes down to personal taste, but as you get to know the different dry sherries available you can begin to have fun working out what foods you like to pair them with.
It's a beautiful sunny day and you’ve cracked open a bottle (or two) of a deliciously dry sherry to drink with some tapas as you bask in the heat and try to convince yourself that you’re on holiday. A lovely scene indeed, but it can be very easy to drink more than you intended to, especially when you’re with friends!
You’d be forgiven for thinking that sherry has the same alcohol content as wine, but sherry is fundamentally a fortified wine so while wine is typically around 12%, sherries can be upward of 20% which can make all the difference.
While we’re not ones to ruin anyone’s fun, you should be aware of the alcohol content of the drinks you’re having so that you can maximise your enjoyment and make sensible choices to prevent overindulging.
Now we’ve discovered the different dry sherry available to buy, it’s onto our recommendations. We’ve pulled our 10 favourites to buy online for you to choose one or two to try out, but we won't blame you if you decide to try them all. Fetch yourself a glass and we’ll get going!
|Suggested Food Pairings||Pâtés, nuts, cheese|
|Suggested Food Pairings||Tapas, jamón ibérico|
|Suggested Food Pairings||Game, mature cheese|
|Suggested Food Pairings||Gazpacho, chorizo, roasted mushrooms, jamón|
|Suggested Food Pairings||Seafood|
|Suggested Food Pairings||Jamón ibérico, salted nuts|
|Suggested Food Pairings||-|
|Suggested Food Pairings||Savoury nibbles, olives, fried fish, Spanish ham, tapas|
|Suggested Food Pairings||Pâté, blue cheese|
|Suggested Food Pairings||Nuts, olives, meats|
Williams & Humbert
12 Year Old Oloroso
Palo Cortado Muy Viejo
Palomino Fino Sherry
La Gitana Manzanilla
Manzanilla Dry Sherry
Dry Oloroso Sherry
No.1 Palo Cortado Sherry
Substantial Yet Balanced Flavours in an Award-Winning Sherry
Dark, Complex and Intense Flavours Blending Palo Cortado and Pedro Ximenez Grapes
The Chalky Soils of Jerez Create This Fresh-Tasting Fino
Flavours of Sea Breezes and Dried Fruits
Bright, Refreshing and Great for Cooking or Drinking
Fresh Citrus and Apple Give This Sherry a Crisp Finish
Blended Exclusively for Rich Traditional Flavours
Light Yet Complex From the Extended Ageing Period
The Taste of Andalusia's Historic Sherry Region
A Cheap Option With a Distinctive Nutty Nose and Hints of Dry Fruit
|Type||Oloroso||Palo Cortado||Fino||Manzanilla||Fino||Manzanilla||Oloroso||Amontillado||Palo Cortado||Amontillado|
|Suggested Food Pairings||Nuts, olives, meats||Pâté, blue cheese||Savoury nibbles, olives, fried fish, Spanish ham, tapas||-||Jamón ibérico, salted nuts||Seafood||Gazpacho, chorizo, roasted mushrooms, jamón||Game, mature cheese||Tapas, jamón ibérico||Pâtés, nuts, cheese|
|Volume||37.5 cl||37.5 cl||75 cl||75 cl||75 cl||75 cl||75 cl||50 cl||75 cl||1 litre|
If you've got the taste for Spanish food and drink, then you should have a look at our other recommended Spanish products. Impress your friends or wow your family with authentic home-cooked food and wines from the sun-soaked Iberian peninsula!
That concludes this listing of our recommended dry sherries. We hope you now feel confident in choosing the perfect bottle to try and that you've learned enough to impress your friends on the differences between Manzanilla and Palo Cortado. Salud!
Author: Catherine Torrance
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