What Does Sherry Taste Like? (7 Wine Styles)

by Hunter Robillard

The delicious Spanish Sherry is one of the oldest fortified wine styles in the world. 

This white wine comes in a wide range of styles, from dry to sweet, and pairs extremely well with food.

So, what does Sherry taste like?Let’s explore the taste of different Sherry wine styles - from Manzanilla to Oloroso Sherry. We will also discover some great food pairings, what gives Sherry its classic flavors, and how it is different from Port wine.

What Does Sherry Taste Like? (7 Types of Sherry)


Sherry is a fortified wine high in alcohol content, containing around 15%-20% alcohol.

Often surmised as a sweet dessert wine, true Sherry comes in a range of styles with different taste and sweetness profiles. 

Here are the tasting notes of different Sherry wines:

  • Fino Sherry: Fino Sherry is the driest Sherry wine. It is light and refreshing with a straw color, showcasing a characteristic almond aroma with crisp saline and tangy notes.
  • Manzanilla Sherry: Brighter and fresher than Fino Sherry, Manzanilla has salty mineral notes with a characteristic Chamomile (Manzanilla in Spanish) aroma and flavor.
  • Amontillado Sherry: Amontillado is a rich and dark fortified wine produced in dry and sweet styles. The wines may have a hazelnut aroma with complex nutty and caramel flavors. They have good alcohol content at around 18% alcohol.Amontillado Sherry blended with sweet Sherry is called medium Sherry.
  • Palo CortadoSherry: Palo Cortado is a rare Sherry wine and can be rich and sweet or crisp and dry. They typically have a reddish-brown color with dramatic aromas and full flavors.
  • Oloroso Sherry: Oloroso is a rich and dark Sherry with a sweet caramel and dried fruit flavor and a complex aroma of spice and walnut.
  • Cream Sherry: Cream Sherry, the famed sweet Sherry, is a full-bodied dessert wine with a bouquet of roasted nuts with a velvety smooth texture on the palate.Its variant, pale cream Sherry is a light and fresh wine with a pale gold color. It displays hazelnut and dough aromas and a delicate sweetness on the palate.
  • Pedro Ximénez Sherry: Made from the Pedro Ximénez grape, this Sherry presents a complex nose of honey, dried fruit like figs and dates, coffee, dark chocolate, and licorice. They also have a velvety and syrupy mouthfeel with good acidity that balances well with the sweetness.

Drinking Sherry with your dinner? Here’s everything you need to know.

Food Pairings With Sherry


Spanish Sherry is best served chilled in 3-ounce servings as an aperitif, digestif, or dessert wine.

Here are some food pairings with your favorite Sherry:

  • Fino Sherry goes well with umami dishes or appetizers containing roasted nuts, olives, cheese, and charcuterie.
  • Manzanilla pairs splendidly with fresh and raw seafood like ceviche, while the Amontillado style perfectly complements pork and chicken dishes.
  • Oloroso Sherry pairs well with decadent chocolate mousse and creamy blue cheese.
  • Pedro Ximénez and Cream Sherry can be had as after-dinner wines or poured on top of desserts like vanilla ice cream or rice pudding.

Additionally, the dry Sherry styles are used to make vinegar and delicious cocktails like the opulent Sherry sour. 

What Gives Sherry Its Classic Taste?


Different Sherry wines are made from different Spanish white grapes.

For example, dry Sherry wine is primarily made from the Palomino grape, while sweet Sherries are made from the Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel grape varieties.

However, their unique flavor results from the maturation process of the base white wine in the Sherry cask. 

  • Fino and Manzanilla Sherry are aged under a flor yeast (layer of dead yeast cells) that prevents the wine’s oxidation.
  • The rare Palo Cortado wine is created by an accidental break of flor, resulting in partial oxidation.
  • Amontillado Sherry is first aged under a flor yeast layer and then supplemented with fortified wine to disrupt flor. The wine is then aged oxidatively.
  • Oloroso Sherry wine is made through oxidative aging, where the flor yeast layer does not form due to its high alcohol content (17% or higher.)
  • Pedro Ximenez grapes are sundried until they are extremely ripe, producing an extremely sweet base wine. The wine then undergoes oxidative aging.
  • Sweet Sherry like Cream Sherry is made by blending Oloroso with Pedro Ximenez, while Medium Sherry is made by blending Amontillado with a sweet Sherry.

The casks (mostly Oloroso Sherry cask) used for the maturation process are then used to age whisky. Cooking Sherry is made with the same process as Fino/Manzanilla Sherry. However, winemakers add salt, potassium metabisulfite, and potassium sorbate to extend its shelf life.Similarly, Sherry vinegar is also made from fermenting, straining, and boiling Sherry wine. This gourmet wine vinegar can be added to salads, sauces, and casserole.

Sherry Vs. Port Wine


Sherry is often assumed to be similar to Port wine since they share a likeness in their high alcohol content and dessert wine styles.

However, they couldn’t be more different from each other.

While Sherry’s home is Spain, Port is only produced in Portugal’s Douro Valley.

Sherry is a dry white wine produced from white grape varieties. The base wine is usually fortified with brandy after fermentation, which results in Sherry’s typical dryness.

Port wine is typically a red wine (except white Port) and is fortified during the fermentation process. That’s why it comprises more residual sugar and tastes sweet. 

That’s why Tawny Port makes an excellent dessert wine.

Similarly, dry Vermouth is another wine compared to Sherry. However, Vermouth is an aromatized fortified wine made in Turin, Italy.

Enjoy A Delicious Bottle Of Sherry Now!

Sherry is the perfect drink to sip on before, during, and even after a meal. And with so many styles to choose from, it is an exciting one to explore.

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