How I Overcame Sherry (Wine) Anxiety

Posted on: August 1st, 2014 by

sherry cellarI’ve had my struggles with Sherry, but recently attended a seminar conducted by Holly Wing of De Maison Selections and felt like I turned the corner. Let me note that this was about my fourth time sitting down for some Sherry sermonizing, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a while (years) to start digging it. All knowledge or insight below has been gleaned from Holly and filtered through my pen. And now my keyboard. So if something is lost in translation, blame this guy.

So what’s the deal with aversion to a style of Fino Sherry like Manzanilla? (Which I infamously called “Manzanita”, a town on the Oregon Coast, when speaking with Master Sommelier Christ Tanghe.) Here are a couple reasons via Holly:

  • It’s on the dessert menu. (D’oh!) This Sherry is dry; have it at the beginning of the meal. And if you like dry martinis, you might really be into this style .
  • It’s old. Like, Methuselah old. It should not be brown.

(I’ll also add it can be bracing at first, so try having a beer back with your Fino or some almonds and/or olives close by.)

What about a richer style of Sherry, one with a little more heft, yet still dry? If Oloroso is on the menu, Holly believes it belongs with the entree. That’s right, Sherry and a steak.

Most versatile for food pairing? Holly’s answer: Amontillado. It’s darker and richer than Fino, but still dry. Well-chilled, it’s great with tuna marinated in a bit of soy sauce. Or all your fancy hams.

Beyond pigs and fish, Amontillado is a classic with (and in) turtle soup. But if you’re object to eating turtle because of your allegiance to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, try Amontillado with rich soups like a creamy bisque. Oh, and consommée (aka “broth“). Additionally, Holly suggests you also try your fancy broth with a rarer style of Sherry, Palo Cortado.

So if you love martinis, seafood, steak, bisque, and/or broth, there’s a Sherry for you! And we haven’t even begun to discuss sweeter Sherry styles like PX. Which smells like raisins and figs, tastes like toasty caramel with orange-y zest. Pour it over your pancakes. Or ice cream. Or crepes topped with ice cream. Or soak a cake with it/in it. Mind blown.

Sidebar: To capitalize or not capitalize, that is the question regarding Sherry. Or sherry. Here’s what William Safire had to say in 1985

Sherry cellar via Wikimedia Commons.

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3 Responses

  1. I only ever use sherry in cooking and especially in recreating historical desserts. It works perfectly in desserts, like you say as well. But on its own it hasn’t convinced me yet. I’m more a port person really…

    • Jameson Fink says:


      I need to fall in love with port again. I do love a white port cocktail in the summer but I’m in love with Madeira when it comes to sipping something in the winter months. (Or, really year-round.)



      • Dip a good Madeira cake into that Madeira. So simple and so beautiful. The English version of the Vin Santo and biscotti.
        I got a 25 year old white port as a gift when I was 16. Port was my tipple back then and the 25 y old made me dislike ‘normal’ port. I only wanted that 25 y old port after that… It was just amazing. Gifted by a Portuguese guy who knew his port. So full it felt like you had to chew it.

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