Sherry is one of those drinks that many associate with Christmas, and often, your nan. Whether you’re pouring a dribble in your trifle, or pulling out that crusty old bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream from the back of the liquor cabinet, you might not realise that there’s a lot more to sherry than its sweet, retro image.
Here’s my quick guide to sherry:
Light, very dry, and influenced by a very special type of yeast called ‘flor’. This yeast is native to the Andalucia region of Spain, where sherry comes from, and gives the style a characteristic bready aroma, whilst also keeping it really fresh.
Best enjoyed with: tapas nibbles such as olives and salted dried broad beans, or almonds.
This is a style of sherry which has been completely exposed to oxygen. As a result it’s brown in colour, and has lots of characteristics that you’d expect from an oxidised wine. It is dry, with flavours of nuts, spices, dried fruits and even coffee.
Best enjoyed with: rich game meats
Amontillado as a style sits between the light Fino styles, and rich oloroso ones. These wines have a bit more richness to them than a fino, and along with flavours of fresh bread, these wines also have a complex nutty character. They are always dry, but you can get sweetened examples which will be labelled as ‘Medium’.
Best enjoyed with: a cheeseboard
These refer to the styles above, but they have been sweetened. If you see ‘pale cream’ on a label it is referring to a Fino which has been sweetened. While ‘cream’ (as in the good ol’ Harvey’s Bristol Cream) on a label, would indicate a sweetened Oloroso style.
Best enjoyed: if you have a sweet tooth
Affectionately known as PX – not least because it’s much easier for the native English speaker to pronounce – this syrupy black liquid is the big daddy of sherry. Rich, opulent, sweet beyond belief. It’s made from raisined grapes, so it’s packed full of flavours like dried fruit, toffee, molasses and nuts.
Best enjoyed: poured over vanilla ice cream