The fortified wines from the Jerez de la Frontera region of Spain, commonly known as Sherry, are often thought of as simply dessert wines. There is some truth to this, of course, but it runs the risk of oversimplifying and misunderstanding the whole Sherry category. It also risks missing out on some wonderful food and wine pairings for dry sherry.
Is all Sherry sweet, or is there dry Sherry?
It’s true that there are some deliciously sweet Sherry wines, the best of which are from the Pedro Ximénez grape. Pairing food with sweet Sherry is quite straightforward, and mostly revolves around dessert. There are also the almost cloyingly sweet Cream Sherry wines, such as Harveys Bristol Cream. This style of wine is usually thought of as a good match for a sweet Christmas pudding, and maybe not much else. However, there is dry Sherry. Lots of it, in fact!
Dry Sherry from the Palomino grape
All dry Sherry comes from the Palomino grape, which makes up 95% of vineyard plantings in the Jerez region. Not all of the wine made from Palomino becomes dry Sherry, but a lot of it does. A good dry Sherry is, perhaps surprisingly, a wonderful accompaniment for a wide range of foods (and there’s not a cake or dessert in sight!)
The 3 best foods to eat with dry Sherry
Pairing dry Sherry with fish
When it comes to food and wine pairing, they say that what grows together goes together. This means that the wines and foods of any given area tend to go quite well together. Jerez de la Frontera is a seaside, Mediterranean area. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the local cuisine is made up of fish and other seafood.
Many people tend to pair fish with white wine, but we suggest you swap out your Riesling or Chardonnay for a dry Sherry! Take a simple pan-fried piece of cod or whitefish and pair it with a (relatively) light Fino style dry Sherry wine. Fino La Ina comes highly regarded with a 95-point rating from Guía Peñín, and fits the bill perfectly here. The wine has something of a salty, saline character that really works well with fresh seafood.
Pairing dry Sherry with mixed nuts
It may not be the most glamorous food in the world, but don’t knock this pairing until you try it – seriously! Due to their ageing under flor, Fino style Sherries can develop a complex flavour profile spanning herbs, dough, yeast and almonds. This eclectic mix makes for a tangy wine that will have you reaching for a bowl of mixed nuts! Don’t underestimate this one, it can be every bit as classy as a steak or lobster! Juan Pinero Fino Camborio is your best bet here. The choice of nuts is yours, but we like a mix of almonds, Brazil nuts and cashews!
Pairing dry Sherry with blue cheese
A salty blue cheese with a salty dry Sherry can give immense pleasure, trust us! You’re not exclusively tied to blue cheese here, but a nice old Roquefort or Gorgonzola has all the character and fortitude to go well with a quality Fino Sherry. In fact, take the opportunity to trade up to something particularly special, such as La Panesa from Emilio Hidalgo. There are cheaper dry Sherry wines out there, but this one is worth every cent. It has 95-point ratings from both Robert Parker and Guía Peñín, and an admirable 92 points from Wine Spectator. Such a wine demands to be savoured with a nice hunk of blue cheese. Enjoy!
What are your favourite Sherry and food pairings? Share some food for thought with your fellow wine lovers in the comments below!