Sherry is many things. Delicious, unique, versatile and varied, it can add a wonderful accent to a cocktail, or act as the base (and, of course, stand alone as a single glass of wine).
For this post, we’re not going to dive into how sherry is made. For that, please check out this piece that we wrote last year. Instead, where going to discuss the flavor and textural differences between each style, and how these differences affect how to mix with Spain’s most famous fortified wine.
Fino/Manzanilla - Delicate, mineraly. herbal, and light, these styles are not heavily oxidized like other types of sherry. This means adding too many other ingredients will swamp the sherry. Adding some sparkling water and squeezing an orange wedge into 6 ounces of either of these types is all you need to do. You can drop in a bit of vodka if you want it a bit stronger, but don’t over do it.
Amontillado/Palo Cortado - Amontillado is the most versatile and common type of sherry to mix with. Palo Cortado is essentially just super nice amontillado, so we suggest you save it for drinking by itself. Because amontillado has flavors that come from oxidation, like dates, figs, nuts and bruised apple, it plays nicely with oak aged spirits. Remember that this style is dry, so you’ll most likely want to add a sweet component. An herbal simple syrup does the trick. Tarragon in particular complements amontillado beautifully.
Oloroso - Its name literally means “aromatic,” and it lives up to it. Good oloroso smells more like almonds and walnut than actual almonds and walnuts. Play to these notes, either with ingredients that also incorporate these flavors, like Amaretto, or complementary ones, such as the baking spices of Angostura bitters.
Cream Sherry - Cream sherry is very similar to sweet white vermouth. It’s sweet, highly oxidized, and naturally a touch herbal. Swap sweet vermouth with cream sherry in any cocktail that calls for it, such as a Manhattan.
Pedro Ximenez - Literally the sweetest dessert wine in the world, a small amount of this stuff goes a long way. Though made from white grapes, the resulting liquid is nearly black. It often has flavors of raisins, walnuts, spices, coffee, chocolate, and is unbelievably rich. A well aged bourbon and coffee liqueur would yield a spectacular after dinner cocktail.
A fun and easy recipe to try at home with Grand Cata ingredients:
Oh So Fino!
4 oz Fino sherry
1 oz Vodka
1 oz Giffard grapefruit liqueur
1/2 oz simple syrup (optional if you prefer a dry drink. Add more if desired)
Topo Chico mineral water
Combine sherry, vodka, syrup, ice and Giffard in mixing glass. Stir for 20-30 seconds. Strain into collins glass a little more than half full of ice. Fill to top with Topo Chico, lightly stir to combine. Garnish with lemon wedge and serve.