What does sherry taste like?

Answered by Tom Adger

Sherry is a type of fortified wine that originates from the Andalusia region of southern Spain. It is made primarily from the Palomino grape, although other grape varieties such as Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel are also used to produce different styles of sherry.

One of the defining characteristics of sherry is its wide range of flavors. While there are different styles of sherry, most exhibit nutty, dried fruit, and saline flavors. These flavors are a result of the unique aging and production methods used in the sherry-making process.

Dry sherries, such as Fino and Manzanilla, are known for their crisp and refreshing character. They often have a delicate, pale straw color and a subtle aroma of almonds. On the palate, they are typically bone dry with a tangy, briny quality and a hint of green apple or citrus. These sherries are meant to be enjoyed chilled and are a popular choice as an aperitif or with tapas.

Amontillado sherries are slightly darker in color, ranging from amber to mahogany. They start off as Fino sherries but undergo further aging, which allows them to develop richer, more complex flavors. Amontillados often have a nutty profile, with notes of toasted almonds, hazelnuts, and a touch of caramel. They can be enjoyed on their own or paired with dishes such as roasted meats or aged cheeses.

Oloroso sherries, on the other hand, are dark and full-bodied with a rich, mahogany color. They are aged oxidatively, meaning they are exposed to air during the aging process. This results in a more intense and concentrated flavor profile. Olorosos are known for their pronounced nutty and dried fruit flavors, such as raisins, figs, and prunes. They can be enjoyed as a digestif or paired with hearty dishes like stews or game meats.

Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherries are incredibly sweet and viscous. Made from sun-dried Pedro Ximenez grapes, they have a dark, syrupy consistency and a luscious taste of raisins, figs, and molasses. PX sherries are often enjoyed as a dessert wine and can be poured over ice cream or paired with dark chocolate.

In addition to these main styles, there are also sweeter cream sherries, which are a blend of dry and sweet sherries, and Palo Cortado sherries, which are rare and highly sought after for their unique combination of dry and rich characteristics.

It is important to note that not all sherries fit neatly into these categories, and there is a wide range of styles and flavor profiles within each category. Each bodega (winery) has its own unique production methods and aging techniques, resulting in a diverse array of sherry offerings.

Personally, I have had the opportunity to taste a variety of sherries and have found them to be incredibly versatile and complex. I have enjoyed a chilled Fino sherry alongside a plate of salty olives and almonds, the briny flavors complementing each other perfectly. I have also savored a glass of Amontillado with a plate of aged Manchego cheese, the nutty notes of the sherry enhancing the nuttiness of the cheese.

Sherry is a wine that truly comes alive when paired with food. Its unique flavors and characteristics can enhance and elevate a wide range of dishes. Whether it’s a crisp and refreshing Fino, a rich and nutty Oloroso, or a decadent Pedro Ximenez, there is a sherry out there to suit every palate and occasion. So, if you haven’t explored the world of sherry yet, I highly recommend giving it a try and discovering the diverse and fascinating flavors it has to offer.