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Sherry guide | Plus, bottles to buy

Olive wine expert Kate Hawkings on everything you need to know about sherry including high street bottles to look out for

Move over the one-glass-of-sweet-at-Christmas sherry brigade: sherry’s time to shine is now.  This fantastically versatile and under-valued wine is enjoying a rightful revival amongst a discerning, sophisticated (and dare we say younger) crowd.

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Sherry gets its name from Jerez, the elegant Andalucian town that has been the centre of sherry production for more than 200 years. It’s a fortified wine that’s aged using the solera system, a method that blends different vintages of liquid together to produce a more consistent product.

Manzanilla and fino are the lightest, driest styles – Hildago’s La Gitana manzanilla and Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe fino are fail-safe choices and come in at a bargain £10 or less for a 75cl bottle. Amontillado has a more nutty grunt, while oloroso and palo cortdao are generally aged for longer so are richer and more complex: all these are made from the palamino grape. Pedro Ximénez and moscatel are grapes that are partly dried in the sun before pressing and produce sweet sherries that are best saved for pudding.

At its simplest, sherry is cheap enough to not take too seriously and should always be on hand in the door of your fridge. Slosh over some ice and sip it slowly, or add a bit of fizz – tonic, lemonade or just a splash of soda – to make a rebujito, garnished with lemon, lime and/or mint. Join the imbibers in-the-know and start your sherry adventure here.

Buy this…

Harvey’s Bristol Cream (£10/75cl, widely available) used to be something of a joke but it’s been updated to appeal to more modern tastes. Use it in place of red wine for a simple sangria: mix in a jug with a cinnamon stick and a slug of orange juice then top it up with lemonade.

If you prefer it a little less sweet, Tesco’s Finest Amontillado, made by Barbadillo, (£5.50/50cl) would suit very well instead.


Unfiltered sherry

En rama sherries are taken straight from the cask and bottled without filtering so are really fresh and intense. M&S Fino en rama (£10/37.5cl) is made by the prestigious Lustau bodega and makes a classy aperitif that would go brilliantly with salted almonds or deep-fried dill pickles.


Palo cortado

For those who want to take their sherry drinking to new levels, try Williams & Humbert Dos Cortados Palo Cortado 20-Year-Old Sherry (£15.99/37.5cl, Waitrose). Rich and spicy with hints of vanilla lifted by gorgeous fresh acidity, try it with mini pork and chorizo picnic pies (p50) or the blackberry, ricotta and pigeon salad.


Become a shez buff…

Sherry.wine is a mine of sherry-based info. It gives the lowdown on the complex classifications and ageing processes of sherry, as well as a lively illustrated history of the region and its wine. It also has food pairing and sherry cocktail ideas, and lists bars and restaurants around the country which showcase sherries on their menus.


Listen to our podcast for an expert guide to sherry

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