A guide to the different types of sherry available, which foods they pair well with and the best way to store them
Cooking sherry is a cheaper wine that has been made shelf stable by adding salt and other additives – in order to prolong its shelf life to accommodate occasional culinary use. Cooking sherry is not for drinking.
Fino is a very dry sherry, pale in color and often served as a chilled aperitif – it contains around 15% alcohol and pairs well with tapas and hors d’oeuvres, cured meats, seafood and cheeses.
(Manzanilla is a specific type of Fino; produced in the area of the town of Sanlucar de Barrameda.)
Amontillado is a medium bodied sherry, rich amber in color and with a deep nutty flavor, but still dry and a little salty. It is a great companion to robustly flavored dishes; red meats, strongly flavored cheeses and fish. A little higher alcohol content here; 17 or 18%, Amontillados are served chilled or at room temperature.
Oloroso is a darkly rich, amber sherry with an autumnal nuttiness. Full-bodied, it pairs well with game dishes and strong flavors. It’s about 18 to 20% alcohol, and is usually served at room temperature.
There is also a rare Palo Cortado sherry which is a cross between an Amontillado and an Oloroso.
Sweet sherries are either a Fino, Amontillado or Oloroso sherry that has been sweetened with Moscatel or Pedro Ximinez wine:
Pale sherry is Fino based and pairs well with hors d’ouvres and fruits and nuts.
Medium sherry is usually Amontillado based – a great dessert companion.
Cream sherry is Oloroso based and a rich mahogany color – pairs well with creamy desserts and rich cakes.
Pedro Ximénez is also another kind of sweet sherry -syrupy and lower in alcohol it can be served with desserts or mild cheeses or fruits, or even over ice cream.
Sweet sherries are served at room temperature.
Store sherries in a cool, dry place, or in the fridge. Once opened it’s best to drink a Fino within a few days, an Amontillado (or Palo Cortado) within a week or so, and within about a month for an Oloroso. Sweet sherry will last for a few months if stored properly.