No trifling matter: how sherry became serious business

Consumer tastes are changing, and fresh bottles are finding a new home in the glasses of millennial drinkers...

It may have spent decades at the back of your grandmother’s liquor cabinet, but this summer, sherry is set to shed its alliance with period dramas and custard trifles once and for all. Consumer tastes are changing, and these lighter, fresher bottles are finding a new home in the glasses of millennial drinkers.

“For lunchtime or weekend drinking,” says Beanie Espey, founder of Xeco Wines and champion of this flourishing fortified wine, “a sherry and tonic is a delicious and comparably low-alcohol option. It’s also a fantastic alternative to vodka in a Bloody Mary.”

No trifling matter: how sherry became serious business
Sherry's unique solera ageing system gives the fortified wine its distinctive qualities and depth of colour

The evidence is in the wine industry. Sherry — produced via a process of fractional blending called the “solera system” — is grabbing the wider vinous world by the grapes. In recent years, several wine and champagne producers have began to buy up land in the drink’s home of Jerez, southern Spain.

No trifling matter: how sherry became serious business

Xeco Amontillado Sherry

£18.99

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No trifling matter: how sherry became serious business

Fino Micaela Bodegas Barón

£12.99

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No trifling matter: how sherry became serious business

Fernando de Castilla Antique Amontillado

£23.69

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Several brands are worthy of mention here. Espey’s own Xeco Amontillado offers rum-soaked raisin and a hint of papaya. Similarly, a light body and refreshing saline tang can be found in both Fernando de Castilla’s Antique Amontillado or the Delicado Amontillado, both available in Waitrose.

No trifling matter: how sherry became serious business

Alternatively, try a fino (a drier, pale-white sherry), such as the clean and intense Manzanilla from Bodegas Barón, or a rich Oloroso (a medium-sweet, dark sherry), such as Lustau’s East India Solera. Or, if you’re looking to mix, the El Candado from Valdespino works as well in cocktails as it does over ice cream.

No trifling matter: how sherry became serious business

Emilio Lustau East India Solera

£19.95

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No trifling matter: how sherry became serious business

El Candado Pedro Ximenez Valdespino

£19.75

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No trifling matter: how sherry became serious business

Delicado Amontillado Sherry

£14.99

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“It’s going to take time for the appreciation of sherry to trickle down from cocktail bars to pubs to people’s homes, but we believe in its potential,” says Espey. “It has all the qualities millennial consumers are looking for — provenance, authenticity and versatility.”

This feature first appeared in our March issue, click here to subscribe and get your copy sent to your door today…

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