An Anglicization of the Spanish town Jerez, Sherry is a fortified Spanish wine that's usually made from white Palomino grapes. It can be dry or sweet, crisp or nutty, and though it is usually used as a cooking wine in the New World, in Spain it's usually enjoyed instead of wine, either before or after dinner, or even paired with certain fish and poultry dishes.
There are a number of different types of Sherry, though they are often categorized as dry or sweet, or dry or cream. Dry Sherries, which include Fino, Manzanilla, and sometimes Amontillado have a crisp aftertaste and a lower sugar content than their sweet counterparts. Cream Sherries, which are some of the sweetest are also incredibly viscous and are known for having a creamy mouthfeel, which is how they get their name.
Unlike with port, liquor is added to Sherry to increase the alcohol content to around 20% after fermentation is complete. In a dry Sherry, sugar is not added after this, resulting in a strong Sherry that's not particularly sweet. In a sweet Sherry, sugars are added after fortification to create a beverage that can be intensely sweet.
Best Dry Sherry:
A fortified wine made exclusively in Spain, Dry Sherry is considered by many to be one of the most underappreciated of the wines. A good Dry Sherry, like a good dry wine, is an intricately balanced drink with intriguing aromatics and a crisp, clean finish. In Spain, Sherry is often enjoyed instead of wine as a before dinner drink or paired with a light meal of fresh fish or grilled vegetables. Our list of the best Dry Sherry includes three different types of Spanish fortified wines: Fino, Manzanilla, and Amontillado. Fino and Manzanilla are aged under a protective layer of yeast called a flor, which keeps them crisp and light. Amontillado has it's flor removed at some point in the aging process, exposing the Sherry to oxygen and allowing it to develop richer flavors. Then making this list, we also looked for Sherry that was readily available both in Spain and around the world so you won't have to search high and low to find any of these treasures. Finally, we choose Sherries that were well regarded by critics, some of which have won awards at recent international wine competitions.
Lustau Dry Amontillado Los Arcos is our favorite Dry Sherry and one of Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines. It's nutty and sweet, with notes of walnut on the nose and caramel on the palate. Since it has undergone a controlled oxidation, it's also developed a beautiful amber color. Read Full Review
In order to keep Domecq "La Ina" Fino Sherry tasting clean and crisp, the winemakers at Domecq have made sure to keep it protected from oxydation by sealing it under a protective flor throughout the aging process. It has bright fruit flavors of apple, pear, and lemon, as well as notes of almond and bread. Read Full Review
An incredibly complex Dry Sherry made in the Amontillado style. Dios Baco Amontillado is one of our favorites. It has sweet dried fruit and sugary toffee on both the nose and the palate, as well as notes of spice and cocoa.
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Made by the Spanish royal family's own personal Sherry makers, Orleans Borbon Manzanilla Fina is some of our favorite dry sherry. It's light and crisp, with flavors of lemon curd, seaside, and almond, and has a clean, dry finish. Since it's such a light Sherry, it's excellent when paired with fish. Read Full Review
Crisp, dry, and rather salty, Tio Pepe Fino Sherry is one of our favorite dry Sherries. It has a slightly floral aroma with just a hint of honey, and plenty of crisp apple and salinity on the palate. Traditionally enjoyed alongside tapas such as grilled sardines, this Sherry also pairs beautifully with sushi or any grilled fish dish. Read Full Review
Best Cream Sherry:
Cream Sherry doesn't get its name from the use of dairy but rather from the creamy mouthfeel that this type of Sherry is known for. Miles away from Dry Sherry, Cream Sherry is sweet and thick, with concentrated flavors of raisins, dried fruit, caramel, and candied orange. The best Cream Sherries have traditionally come from Spain, though there are some excellent New World winemakers who have started to make Sherry-styled fortified wines. Our list contains both Old and New World Sherries, all of which are popular choices when it comes to a sweet after dinner drink. We also looked for Cream Sherries that were relatively inexpensive and in fact, some of these retail for less than $10 a bottle, making it an excellent alternative to Port, which usually retails for much more. Of course, all of the Sherries on this list are also incredibly sweet, making them perfect for a digestif that can be enjoyed alone or paired with your favorite dessert.
Quite light for a this type of Sherry, Hidalgo Alameda Cream Sherry is an excellent fortified wine with plenty of sweetness. It's made from aromatic grapes that have been left on the vines to dry, resulting in a naturally sweet Sherry that has had little need of additional sweetening. It's best enjoyed as a dessert or paired with something sweet at the end of a nice meal. Read Full Review
Cream Sherry can be far more than just a simple sweet after dinner drink and Dios Baco Cream Sherry proves it. With notes of cola, root beer, nutmeg, toffee, chocolate, and coffee, there's plenty of intricacy to keep your palate interested. Read Full Review
If you like lots of fruit flavors in your Sherry, Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry is the perfect choice. It has notes of dried fruit on the nose that are complemented by lots of big grape flavors. The finish is soft and smooth with a little bit of oak that cuts through the sweetness. Read Full Review
Though the modern palate has pushed Cream Sherries to become lighter and drier, Hartley & Gibson Pedro Ximenez Cream Sherry has stayed true to its roots. This Sherry is rich, sweet, and incredibly viscous, coating the mouth like syrup and going down smooth. Read Full Review
For a great Cream Sherry at a bargain price, you can't get any better than Sheffield Cellars California Cream Sherry. Though it hails from California and not Spain, this Sherry is made using classic Spanish techniques and is a great representation of this sweet, smooth after dinner drink. Enjoy it with a rich dessert or on its own. Read Full Review