This Retro Wine Is Making a Major Comeback

Oft cited as the most underappreciated category of wine, Sherry is a tough sell outside of its home region of Jerez, Spain. Whether you pass on a glass because you think of it as cloyingly sweet or, in the case of cooking Sherry, low quality and extremely salty, it's time to reconsider this fortified wine.

To learn more and get expert pairing advice, we consulted Kristen Capella, the sommelier at TBD, a fire-driven restaurant in San Francisco that boasts one of the country's most extensive Sherry lists.

According to Kristen, the biggest misconception about the fortified Spanish wine is that all "Sherry is the same cream cooking Sherry that your grandma may have cooked with." Rather, she explained that it's a diverse, versatile beverage that's well suited to pairing with a variety of dishes and can also serve as a great start or end to a meal. Depending on the style you're sipping, you might taste flavors as wide-ranging as citrus, nuts, and salt; some bottles even have a savory quality to them.

Keep reading to get to know five must-try varieties of Sherry and for Kristen's picks and pairing suggestions.


The most delicate of the bunch, Fino Sherrys are light golden, extremely dry, yeasty, and often quite saline. Unlike most varieties of Sherry, Fino Sherrys are minimally oxidized, as they're protected by a thick layer of yeast called flor during the aging process. In order to preserve the flor, Fino Sherry is fortified only to be about 15 to 16 percent alcohol by volume, as a higher alcohol content would kill off the yeast. Bracing and bright, it should be served very cold (as you would white wine) and is great as an aperitif.

Kristen's pick and pairing suggestion:
Alexander Jules Fino 22/85 ($40)
Kristen suggests pairing Fino Sherry with oily, salty fish (like sardines), pickled items, marcona almonds, and brined chicken.


Essentially a Fino Sherry that's lost its flor, either naturally during the aging process or by adding more alcohol until the yeast dies off, Amontillado Sherry is still very fresh in flavor, light, and delicate. Light brown in color from oxidation, these wines are slightly heavier bodied and higher alcohol (about 16 to 18 percent alcohol by volume) than Finos, with notes of caramel and nuts. They also tend to be sweeter but not nearly as sweet as a dessert wine, making this variety a great bridge between dry and sweet Sherrys.

Kristen's pick and pairing suggestion:
Bodegas Dios Baco Amontillado ($23)
Kristen suggests pairing Amontillado Sherrys with dishes that mirror the wine's caramel notes, such as wood-fired dishes, roast chicken, and caramelized vegetables.


Made by intentionally destroying the flor to promote oxidation, Oloroso Sherrys are typically more oxidized, savory, saline, and fuller bodied than Amontillados are. This wine can be completely dry or slightly sweet depending on whether it's made with only Palomino Fino grapes (the varietal used for Fino and Amontillado Sherrys) or if it's a blend of Palomino Fino and Moscatel or Pedro Ximénez (the other two grapes Sherry can be made from). Oloroso Sherrys can be aged for a long time, adding to their complexity, and tend to be in the range of 18 to 20 percent alcohol by volume.

Kristen's pick and pairing suggestion:
Gutierrez Colosia Oloroso Sangre y Trabajadero ($16)
Kristen suggests pairing this savory, fuller-bodied Sherry with dishes that boast similar qualities, like roasted pork, charred steak, and caramelized onions. It's also dry enough to cut through fattier meats (think roasted pork shoulder vs. pork tenderloin).


A single-varietal dessert wine, Moscatel Sherry must be made with at least 85 percent Moscatel grapes, the remaining volume coming from Palomino Fino grapes if blended. Floral, honeyed, and often citrus-forward, this wine shares some similarities with its cousin, Moscato, but is richer bodied and more complex as the oxidation balances its sweetness. This wine gets its full-bodied sweetness by being made with very mature or sun-dried (and therefore more concentrated) grapes.

Kristen's pick and pairing suggestion:
Cesar Florido Moscatel Pasas ($19)
Kristen suggests playing up Moscatel's citrus notes by pairing it with flan, citrus tarts, or desserts centered on baked citrus.

Pedro Ximénez

To call a dessert Sherry Pedro Ximénez, it must, like Moscatel, be made with at least 85 percent Pedro Ximénez grapes. Likewise, it is also made with very mature or sun-dried grapes, adding to its intensely full, concentrated body and flavor. Dark, rich, and supersweet — but good bottlings are very complex and balanced — a petite glass of Pedro Ximénez can serve as an elegant finish to a meal.

Kristen's pick and pairing suggestion:
Equipo Navazos La Bota de Cream #38 ($130)
Kristen suggests pairing this intense wine with a dessert involving milk chocolate or caramelized nuts.