Oh, sherry amour! Let’s raise a toast to National Sherry Week

The Society’s Fino, Waitrose Blueprint Manzanilla, Pedro’s Almacenista Selection Oloroso Sherry, Tesco Finest Pedro Ximénez Sherry

This week Times Drinks Editor James Viner toasts the ninth International Sherry Week (November 7-13) – the annual fiesta that brings together the lively global community of ardent sherry lovers – with a selection of four sherries that won’t drain your wallet…


Possibly Spain’s most individual wine, food-friendly sherry is made in the region around the city of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, the southernmost of Spain’s autonomous regions and the only European region with both Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines. The ‘Zona de Producción’ of DO Jerez-Xérès-Sherry (established in 1935) is located on the prized dazzlingly white, crumbly, water-retentive albariza soil, essentially a mixture of limestone, silica and clay. Its wines fall along a gamut of some seven styles—from those (such as crisp, dry and lightly fortified fino and manzanilla) that look like white wine to fuller-bodied sherries, including the oloroso below, that are more mahogany-coloured and nutty, yet still dry.

Embracing four key styles at under £15, here are my three top dry sherry picks and one must-try sweet wine.


  1. Stonking salty-savoury, bone-dry fino sherry

The Society’s Fino (£6.95, The Wine Society, 75cl, alc 15%)

Dry and pale lemon in colour with low acidity, palate-reviving, lightly fortified fino and manzanilla sherries are aged ‘biologically’ under the so-called foamy film of yellow-white flor (‘flower’) yeasts, which shield the wine from oxidation while reducing levels of glycerol (and body), releasing aromas of apple skin, bread dough, hay and almonds.

This textbook fino comes in a 75cl bottle and is made for The Wine Society by Sánchez Romate. It’s fabulously refined and tangy with glorious freshly baked sourdough, green apple peel, yeasty/almondy aromas and a salty edge. Serve well-chilled as an aperitif or drink with runny-centred tortillas, asparagus with hollandaise, green olives, jamón ibérico, Marcona almonds, gazpacho, vinaigrette salads, sushi and fish and chips.


  1. A pale, pristine, light-bodied, super dry, tangy ‘biologically aged’ sherry

Waitrose Blueprint Manzanilla NV, Lustau (£8.99, Waitrose, 75cl, alc 15%)

Manzanilla is a dry sherry aged under a veil of indigenous flor yeast in the lower temperatures and higher humidity conditions of the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Nab this one from Waitrose, which has the best own-label range of sherry on the high street. Made by Lustau, it has whistle-clean scents and flavours of iodine-like sea spray, preserved lemons, chamomile, green moss, mint, bread and a salty tang all mingling together, in a 75cl bottle. For such a great bone-dry, filigreed wine it’s outstanding value and the essence of umami. One for salted almonds, almost anything fried (like calamares fritos and fritto misto), sashimi, smoked salmon, bouillabaisse and seafood such as prawn tapas and oysters. Serve between 5-7° C in an all-purpose white wine glass (NEVER use a small glass for sherry).


  1. Warm, complex, powerful and full-bodied, oxidatively aged dry Oloroso sherry

Pedro’s Almacenista Selection Oloroso Sherry (£12.99, mix 6, Majestic, 75cl, alc 20%)

Unlike lightly-fortified fino and manzanilla, fuller-bodied, oxidatively-aged dry oloroso (‘fragrant’) sherries such as this outstanding example will be fortified to around 17 per cent abv. These wines, therefore, have detectable levels of glycerol resulting in a slightly sweet taste and higher levels of acetic acid.

Majestic’s Pedro’s range of ‘Almecenista’ sherries is magnificently intense and complex. Golden mahogany in colour and wonderfully aromatic, this unblended Palomino-based oloroso fills the mouth with bursts of toffee, toasted walnut, tobacco, balsamic, vanilla, leather, dried fruit and spice characters. Downright enticing and very satisfying, this vinous gem pairs brilliantly with game, meat stews, poultry, creamy cheeses, tuna and mushroom dishes. Serve between 12° and 16° C in a white wine glass. An open bottle will last a couple of months (preferably in the fridge to slow down deterioration).


  1. An unctuous, dark mahogany, velvety, sweet, syrupy and fruity ‘PX’ sherry, the world’s darkest and stickiest dessert wine

Tesco Finest Pedro Ximénez Sherry NV, González Byass (£6.50, Tesco, 37.5cl, alc 15%)

Unlike the other ‘Vinos generosos’ above (wines with a maximum residual sugar of 5 g/l), this remarkable sweet sherry is made from overripe (either late-harvest or sun-dried on straw mats), thick-skinned, sugar-rich, low-acid white Andalusian Pedro Ximénez (PX) grapes. The result is a sweet, sensational and hedonistic array of blackstrap molasses, sticky dates, raisins and dried figs whipped together with hints of toffee and prune, all of which linger on the long, joyful finish and aftertaste. Viscous, intense, and sweet (it’s around three times the sweetness of Sauternes), this is ebony-coloured and delicious. Serve it slightly chilled, as Spanish grown-ups do, as a sundae topping, by pouring it over rum-raisin or vanilla ice cream. Also great slightly chilled with dark chocolate, blue, or hard cheeses with pectin-packed quince paste (membrillo).

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