Sherry Part Two: Types, Serving & Storage

February 13, 2012

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.

Storing sherry:
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.