The sweetness of sherry varies depending on the sherry type. Sherry wines are characterised by a distinctive, slightly oxidised flavour. They often contain hints of ripe apple, toasted nuts and salt.
Fino and manzanilla, which age under a layer of flor yeast protecting them from oxygen, are light and dry with light floral and almond notes. Amontillado is an aged fino that has been further matured. Compared to fino, it is darker, richer and nuttier. Oloroso’s sweetness ranges from dry to medium, and it has nut, raisin and toasted flavours. Sweet cream sherries and Pedro Ximénez sherries are thick, syrupy and have caramel flavours.
Sherries have multiple uses from aperitifs to serving with appetisers and desserts, depending on the sherry type.
Fino is best served chilled from a freshly opened bottle, enjoyed as an aperitif, with savouries or tapas. You can also try fino with sushi. Amontillado is a good match for soups or broths. Brown, nutty, dry oloroso, aged for years in casks without a protective layer of flor, is a perfect match for hard aged cheeses or game and meat dishes with an intense flavour. Dark brown, caramelised cream sherry and Pedro Ximénez can be paired with nuts, dried fruit, ice cream and date cake, or on its own as a dessert.
Serve sherries as follows: fino and manzanilla well-chilled at 10–12°C and other sherries chilled at 14–16°C.
All sherries are made in the Jerez region in southern Spain.
Sherries are traditionally aged in casks stacked on top of each other. Solera is the lowest row of casks. A third of the sherry in the lowest row is bottled and replaced with wine from the row above it, the first criadera, which is slightly younger.
Opened bottles of sherry other than fino and manzanilla keep for several weeks when stored in a cool place.