So often I'll be like 'This cocktail needs something' and then just reach
straight for the Amontillado because it's basically ready-made complexity.
Sherry is amazing because it brings a really unique flavor so it can be used
to add another dimension to a host of classic cocktails or it can be built on
for a beautiful custom creation. Although of course very good very old sherry will
be expensive, you can easily invest in a good quality sherry for half the cost of
more spirits and liqueurs and it expands your repertoire exponentially.
It is also lower ABV than spirits but higher than wine so it has enough backbone to carry
the dilation of a cocktail but you can have two instead of one.
Are you thinking of your grandmother's sherry? Then you had better stop that right now!
Regular viewers will know and forever exposing the wonders of sherry,
it's an amazing secret weapon in your cocktail making arsenal.
I'm going to take you through what exactly sherry is, the different styles of it and how best to use it.
While having a little taste of course.
I can't resist using sherry in cocktails
so if that appeals to you then hit that subscribe button and the
notification bell because we've got more sherry cocktails coming your way soon.
So what is Sherry? Sherry is, very basically, a fortified wine which is made in a
specific region of Spain. So fortified means a wine which has had spirit added
to it to give it a higher alcohol content, it does not necessarily mean
that sugar has been added to it. In fact contrary to popular belief the majority
of Sherries are dry. They are aged white wines which develop massive complexity
due to the distinctive aging process. Now sherry must be made in the south of
Spain in an area of Andalucia known as the Sherry Triangle,
so that's a little area between the towns of Jerez, El Puerto de Santa Maria
and Sanlucar de Barrameda.
As a side note it is an amazingly beautiful region
and if anyone gets the chance to visit then you definitely should
it's absolutely my happy place.
The unique soils and climate here are perfect for growing the three grapes
that sherry is made from Palomino Pedro Ximinez and the lesser used Moscatel.
For a long time it was thought that sherry had to be made there because
of the particular climate and conditions causing the
very important flor, which is a layer of yeast, and there'll be more on this later, to form.
However winemakers have since disproved this and you can find sherry
style wines made in a lot of wine producing regions now although they
can't be called sherry much like how sparkling wines made outside of
Champagne are not in fact champagne. Often they will be labeled by the style
of sherry that they're closest to so for example Fino or Oloroso or folks
can get a little bit creative with names like here in Australia they've come up
with the word Apera for their sherry like wines. A common feature of these
wines is that they will be aged in a Solera system this is something that
they do in rum production a lot as well and it basically just means that barrels
are topped up with newer wines as older wine is taken out to be bottled.
So this is why you'll see some bottles of sherry with crazily old dates like 1842
written on them because that's how long that solera has been going for.
Of course the amount of sherry from that year would be pretty diluted by now but it's still
cool to be able to drink something with such a long pedigree.
Because Sherries are made from the same few grapes the flavor differences
actually mostly come from the production and aging processes, so it's helpful to
break this rather large subject to down into two categories. You've got dry sherry
and sweet sherry. Dry sherries are made from Palomino grapes which are
fermented to make a dry white wine which is actually generally kind of fairly flavourless.
They're trying to add all the flavor afterwards in the production process.
So this base wine is tasted and
classified according to its flavor profile and this is where the flor comes in.
It's a layer of yeast that forms over the top of the wine.
When the wine is fortified past a certain point this yeast layer won't form because the
higher alcohol level kills it off so really good delicate base wines with
lots of floral characteristics will be earmarked for biological or non oxiditive aging.
And they are fortified less which allows that layer to form
whereas more robust based wines will be earmarked for oxidative aging
and have more alcohol added.
Now what the hell does that mean?
Well, oxidative refers to oxygen in the air so it's just talking about whether
or not the wine will be aged open to the air or not. Have you ever opened a
bottle of white wine for cooking and popped it in the cupboard and completely
forgotten about it? Because I've done that plenty and it changes heaps.
It gets much darker and starts to taste more like kind of dried fruit and even nuts
and mushrooms rather than that bright fresh citrus and stone fruits when it's fresh.
So that's the effects of oxygen getting in there. So this process can be delayed
but not stopped entirely by storing things in the fridge which is
why I'm always nagging at you to keep your vermouth and sherry cold once you've opened them.
So the lighter brighter wines will be aged under this
layer of yeast, the flor, to protect them from the effects of oxygen.
On the other hand the effect of oxygen actually enhances the coarser wines because it
allows them to develop really amazing depth of flavor and complexity.
The flor can also die naturally or be killed off deliberately during the maturation process
and that creates a really interesting in-between style.
So in the category of dry sherry you have an incredible range of flavor profiles
and hopefully you're starting to see why they are such useful flavor enhancers for cocktails.
But before I get into that we do need to chat about the sweet sherries.
Sweet sherries can be made in a couple of ways, the most intense ones will be
made by late harvesting Pedro Ximenez or Moscatel grapes and then drying them in the sun.
So picking them later means that the grapes will be really ripe and full of sugar
and then drying them turns them into raisins basically. So you can see
why pouring a PX can sometimes feel like pouring a glass of oil.
Since fermentation is the process of turning sugar into alcohol their fermentation is
actually cut short to retain a lot of that sugar and then the alcohol is
bumped up via fortification. Older PX is literally some of the most powerful and
intriguing sips I've ever had in my life because allowing something that already
has that much inherent character to develop over time is always going to
absolutely blow your mind. Now the other way of making sweet wine is to take a
dry base wine so one made with Palomino
and then blend it with PX or Moscatel or just a concentrated grape syrup,
and this is your grandmother's sherry! This is the cheapest way of
making sweet sherry and while it definitely has its place -
so I love a Lustau East India cream sherry after dinner - it is the one that was often left
to languish in a cupboard to be dusted off each Christmas day for years in a row.
I just wanted to take a little moment to say a really heartfelt thanks to our
patron angels, those that have supported us on the Patreon page so far.
So Evan, Jay, Hannah, David and Barclay thank you so much, it's really lovely to be able to
just have a little bit of light-hearted content and share some booze knowledge
with other people that care about it in these somewhat troubled times.
We plan on doing it for as long as possible and your support is helping to make that happen,
so thank you.
So I'm going to taste through these and describe them
from the lightest and brightest to richest and heaviest, so starting with
your Fino and Manzanilla. So Fino and Manzanilla are the same base wine but
then just aged in different areas. So Manzanilla is in Sanlucar de Barrameda
which is by the sea and the cooler a more constant climate there allows
a really thick layer of to form this means it's really light and delicate and lively
but it does have kind of a maritime salty edge to it and also notes
of yeast from the flor layer. The word Manzanilla actually means chamomile,
which is another classic flavor note. It's actually my favorite style I'm not
drinking it today I'm just gonna have some Fino, but I could literally drink
one this big. It's in my absolute favorite cocktail
the Jabberwocky and it really elevates this wet martini, or you can try in a
margarita because we know that tequila loves salt. I also like to add a little spike
to Bloody Mary's for an awesome maritime punch.
So this one is the Lustau Fino Jarana
Fino is literally the inland twin of Manzanilla and I find it much more
herbal and a little bit less saline because it doesn't have that kind of
maritime influence but they are very similar.
So it's really quite soft...
You get a really lovely bready note from it and quite citrus as well which is why it
goes so well with gin you should check out the London Calling video for more on that.
If martinis are more your thing if you
don't like shaking things up then try out a Tuxedo, it's a really awesome lower
ABV martini style drink or just add a fino rinse to any of your favorite gin
and vermouth combinations and watch it sing.
You can see it's very very slightly
darker than your average white wine just because obviously it does have that
Solera system but it's still really light and crisp easy drinking with just
a very kind of slight but really delicious almost medicinal edge,
it does have a really lovely herbal dryness and that's why it works so well actually
in tiki drinks as a way of balancing out all of that tropical sweetness.
At Bomba we actually like to use it as a base for like a lower ABV Collins style drink
like the Pasty Collins, that we did a video on. Just make sure that you choose one-
this one's actually probably a little bit delicate - make sure you choose
one that's really robust and a little bit more fruit forward and then it can
stand up and and won't over dilute. Just pack as much ice in there as you can.
Both Manzanilla and Fino need to be crisp and clean so even storing them in
the fridge they will only last a couple of weeks or a month maximum.
Mine never last that long anyway. But luckily they do quite often come in
little smaller 375 mil or 500 mil bottles.
So moving on to that really fun
in-between style you have Amontillado or Palo Cortado, I'm gonna have a little
taste of the Amontillado. This is a very interesting halfway house.
Some wines are chosen to have their Flor killed off at some point along the way of their ageing
so this means that they have all the kind of herbal and bready flavors of a Fino,
but with an amazing structure and length.
So you're starting to get that kind of a little bit raisiny and almost golden syrup sort of nose coming through
it gets a little bit nutty.
And this one is probably not old enough
I'm not getting heaps but sometimes they can go almost slightly smoky like a little
bit tobacco ish, anyway so often I'll be like this cocktail needs something and
then just reach straight for the Amontillado because it's basically
But it still has such a nice bright dry finish. It's really rum's best friend
it's amazing in tiki drinks or stirred down boozy numbers alike.
That said it doesn't overpower gin in small quantities because it's not as kind of
big and bold as the other ones we're gonna look at and it also works with
tequila and whiskey so if you can only have one sherry then this might be the
one to go for. It's also awesome as the backbone for a Sherry Cobbler or you can
add a splash to a hot toddy for a little bit of nutty warmth.
Anyway because it has been aged oxidatively you can see it's really quite dark in color so it
can stand being left open for quite a while as those more mature flavors are
just gonna continue developing.
So the other kind of wine in this sort of
halfway house style are Palo Cortado but they're anomalies they were wines
that were destined to be a Fino or a Manzanilla but for some natural reasons
their flor dies off unlike Amontillados, which are always destined to be an
Amontillado and then they have their they have alcohol added to kill their
flora deliberately, so Paolo Cortados actually get their name from the cross
drawn on the barrel, basically meaning this wine is doing its own thing let's
just see what happens. So they were amongst the most delicate and refined of
the base wines but then they go on to develop all of the texture and body of
an Oloroso, so they're absolutely incredible and it means that they can be used
in place of a Fino or a Manzanilla and cocktails like a Bamboo
or a Rebujito, and they add an incredible depth of flavor.
But you're also seeing more and more bartenders building drinks around their profile
because it is so strange and awesome so something like the Palo Negre
which combines the sherry with rum and tequila and orange liqueur
sounds pretty weird but it works.
And then this brings us on to the category
of wines which is aged entirely oxidatively and that is Oloroso.
Oloroso sherry is made from the most robust of the base wines and aged
entirely without a protective flor layer so you can see this one in this
one are probably around the same age but this has been aged under flor and the
only reason this is this color is because it doesn't have the flor.
So it means that it's really full-bodied and it gives the impression of a bit of a
raisiny sweetness even though it is still a dry wine.
So there's lots of nutty notes especially walnuts and a lot of kind of baking spices
but also quite a green and vegetal edge sort of thyme and sage
coming in there and works really well with darker spirits because it can even
stand up to a slightly smoky Scotch in the Artist Special and it's also great
in sweeter desert style cocktails like the creamy Sherry Flip because it does
have that upfront sweetness but then a really dry finish so it stops them
becoming too cloying. So know that you know what to do with the dry sherries,
what about the sweet? Can they also work in cocktails?
So your grandma's sherry actually it comes into its own in cocktails, in fact I should have it in a glass
that my grandmother would be proud of. They're way less viscous and intense
than the other sweet sherries, so they're much more flexible.
You still have that real kind of raisiny sweetness but it does actually have like you can feel quite a
high acid there and yeah as I said it's just not as much of a kind of coating
your mouth situation. One of my favorites is the East Indian Negroni
so that switches out gin for rum and vermouth for cream sherry,
so you get a really rich and spicy take on the bitter classic.
And your cream sherries also
worked really well in Manhattan variations, so again a PX would just be
too much to use in a traditional Manhattan ratio.
So that brings us on to the richest of them all, PX.
Now these wines are delicious but so intense that they can be hard to balance
you can see it's really quite thick and this isn't even one of the thicker ones
so I definitely recommend using less and you think to begin with.
they have amazing dark and dried fruit and chocolate and spice so it pairs really
well with dark spirits just try using it instead of sugar syrup in
an old fashioned and you'll find it actually really brings out a lot of the tropical
fruit notes in the whiskey. Weirdly I actually also enjoy a little splash of this
in a Bloody Mary because you do need a little bit of sweetness in there
to balance all the savory flavors going on, but do choose this or Manzanilla and not both.
Finally we do have Moscatel which is basically the same as PX
but just made with different grapes so it's a bit brighter and think more kind of
golden raisins, candied citrus peel and flowers, again you just want to use this
in the place of a sweetener and I find it does go really well alongside lighter
rums but it is a bit harder to get your hands on and as you see I actually
couldn't manage it for today.
Hopefully you can now if you're confident
grabbing a bottle of sherry and experimenting. Please drop me a comment
and let me know if you come up with anything great or if you just have any questions.
Sherry, so now you know!