Best Sherry for Beginners? Our 7 Incredible Top Picks


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Sherry is rich in history and dates back to 1100 BC. This traditional Spanish wine is only made from Palomino, Pedro Ximѐnez, or Moscatel grape types, then fortified with distilled grape spirit for extra strength.

The best sherry for beginners combines flavours of dried fruits plus nutty and slightly salty tones which is ideal for sipping neat or pairing with various desserts and cheeses.

If you are new to sherry, fear not, as we are about to go on a journey of sherry discovery. Let’s start by reviewing 7 sherries perfect for beginners, then dive into a quick sherry Q&A.

Best Sherry For Beginners

Every sherry has its own unique style accompanied by a rich history from where it comes. These are the 7 best sherries for beginners.

1. Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximénez Sherry

Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximénez Sherry
Credit: Gonzalez Byass

Overview

  • Distiller: Gonzalez Byass
  • ABV: 15% (30 Proof)
  • Country: Spain
  • Colour: Deep Brown

Review

From the vineyards in the Jerez region, Spain, Gonzalez Byass teases the Pedro Ximénez grape by only picking it at the end of the limited three-week harvest. The grapes are then sundried for two weeks for extra flavour. (source)

The Pedro Ximénez grape is left to ferment till the alcohol content peaks at 7%. The wine is fortified to a 15% alcohol content and aged eight years in oak casks following the Solera tradition.

On The Nose

Rich, fruity tones of dates, sundried raisins, and ripe figs on the nose with honey in the background. 

On The Palate

Smooth and fruity notes of dates and raisins but not too sweet. The finish is long and silky with honeyed caramel.

Best Served

Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximénez Sherry is best served slightly chilled in a small wine glass and pairs well with any dark chocolate dessert.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

2. Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry

Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
Credit: Harveys

Overview

  • Distiller: Harveys
  • ABV: 17.5% (35 Proof)
  • Country: Spain
  • Colour: Deep Gold

Review

Founded in Bristol in 1796, Harveys quickly became the leading importer of sherry from the Bay of Cadiz to Bristol. A variety of Palomino & Pedro Ximenez grapes make up over 30 sherry blends that Harvey’s has on offer.

Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry was launched in 1882 and is blended with the two variety grapes typical in their Sherries with the addition of a delicate fino. The wines are individually aged from 3 to 20 years.

On The Nose

The fragrant aroma of fruit and sweet caramel on the nose with light dried fruit and chestnut notes. 

On The Palate

Full-bodied and smooth with juicy dried fruits and hints of caramel. The finish is long, with just the right amount of sweetness.

Best Served

Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry is best enjoyed chilled at 53°F (12°C) in a wine glass; add ice and a zesty orange slice for the perfect serve.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

3. Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado Sherry

Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado Sherry
Credit: Lustau

Overview

  • Distiller: Lustau
  • ABV: 18.5% (37 Proof)
  • Country: Spain
  • Colour: Amber

Review

Lustau is the only winery producing its sherry in all three regions of the sherry triangle. It is aged in historical looking buildings with high ceilings to perfectly regulate the humidity of the Palomino, Pedro Ximѐnez, and Moscatel grapes (source).

Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado Sherry is aged for 8 years under “flor” (a layer of natural yeast) and allowed to be in contact with oxygen. This gives a slightly nutty flavour to the sherry.

On The Nose

A lovely light hazelnut aroma on the nose with a hint of raisin. 

On The Palate

A smooth and soft texture with dried fruit and a subtle nutty, creamy taste. Reminds me of a rich port.

Best Served

Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado Sherry is best served chilled at 55°F (14 C). It is perfectly paired with matured cheeses or any spicy dish.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

4. Willams & Humbert Walnut Brown Sherry

Willams & Humbert Walnut Brown Sherry
Credit: Willams & Humbert

Overview

  • Distiller: Williams & Humbert
  • ABV: 19.5% (39 Proof)
  • Country: Spain
  • Colour: Mahogany

Review

Bodegas Williams & Hubert began their journey back in 1877 in Carrascal, Spain. The Vineyards produce the majority of the grapes needed for their wines and Sherries and have a vast storage facility.

Palomino, Pedro Ximѐnez, and Moscatel grapes are perfectly unified and poured into clean oak casks. The Soleras system allows for oxidation, and then it’s aged for a minimum of four years (source).

On The Nose

The Moscatel is abundant on the nose, accompanied by a nutty aroma and raisins. 

On The Palate

This sherry is soft and velvety on the palate with plenty of raisins and burnt sugar notes on the long brandy-like finish.

Best Served

Williams & Hubert Walnut Brown Sherry is best enjoyed chilled and served neat. Pairs well with mature cheeses and sweet desserts.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

5. Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Palomino Fino Sherry

Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Palomino Fino Sherry
Credit: Gonzalez Byass

Overview

  • Distiller: Gonzalez Byass
  • ABV: 15% (30 Proof)
  • Country: Spain
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

In Jerez, Spain, the Vineyards are blessed with over 300 days of sunshine and the perfect humidity for growing Palomino grapes. These grapes are harvested once a year in August during a three-week window.

The Palomino grapes are pressed, and only the first press and free-run juices are used for Tio Pepe Sherry. The grape juices are fermented till it has an alcohol content of 11%. 

It is fortified to 15.5% before it enters the Solera. Extra space is left in the oak casks to allow the “Flor” to grow and prevent any oxygen from contacting the sherry. Tio Pepe is then matured for a minimum of four years.

On The Nose

There are subtle notes of fresh yeast and nutty almond.

On The Palate

Dry with hints of almond and raisin coming through in the background. The finish is long and flavoursome but remains dry throughout.

Best Served

Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Palomino Fino Sherry is best served chilled in a wine or tulip glass. Pairs well with ham, olives and cheeses.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

6. Bodegas Hidalgo Manzanilla La Gitana Sherry

Bodegas Hidalgo Manzanilla La Gitana Sherry
Credit: Bodegas Hidalgo

Overview

  • Distiller: Bodegas Hidalgo
  • ABV: 15% (30 Proof)
  • Country: Spain
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

Bodegas Hidalgo was founded in 1792 and run by the family for eight generations. La Gitana or the Gypsy is the flagship sherry of the Bodegas Hidalgo winery, and you can even pay them a visit.

Two Palomino grape aged white wines are blended to produce Bodegas Hidalgo Manzanilla La Gitana Sherry. The first is Manzanilla Pasada, and the second is Amontillado Viejo, a Manzanilla created by prolonged ageing in oak barrels (source).

On The Nose

A light, crisp, fruity aroma on the nose with hints of sea salt.

On The Palate

Dry and slightly salty opening, with crisp grape and apple notes slipping into the long finish.

Best Served

Bodegas Hidalgo Manzanilla La Gitana Sherry is best served chilled as an accompaniment to tapas or roasted almonds.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

7. Gutierrez Colosia Amontillado Sherry

Gutierrez Colosia Amontillado Sherry
Credit: Gutierrez Colosia

Overview

  • Distiller: Gutierrez Colosia
  • ABV: 18% (36 Proof)
  • Country: Spain
  • Colour: Amber

Review

Gutierrez Colosia Winery is located alongside the Guadalete River, providing the perfect conditions to age sherry. Their wine cellars resemble ancient cathedrals with high ceilings, which aid in cooling the ageing Palomino grape wine.

The Gutierrez Colosia Amontillado sherry is aged in a two-stage process. It ages as a Fino (no Oxygen) for three years in the first stage. Then it is allowed to oxidise and age for a further five years in oak casks to enhance the flavour.

On The Nose

Hazelnut with crisp grape on the nose. 

On The Palate

Initially sharp with subtle cues of hazelnut and grape, culminating in a long, dry finish.

Best Served

Gutierrez Colosia Amontillado Sherry is best served chilled and leans towards being a pre-dinner aperitif rather than a dessert sherry. It’s quite rich like a cognac.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

Seperator

Ingrid’s Top Pick

Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximénez Sherry

My top pick is Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximénez Sherry. This is a great beginner’s sherry as it is fruity with dates and raisins but not too sweet or salty.

Sherry Q&A

Credit: Gutierrez Colosia

How Is Sherry Made?

Sherry is made by crushing and fermenting grapes (with yeast) until the mash’s sugar stabilises; this is usually around 7-12 % alcohol content. The wine is then fortified by adding additional alcohol (usually distilled grape) and left to mature in oak casks for a minimum of 3 years before bottling.

The yeast is usually added to cover the wine to form a barrier to prevent the wine from coming into contact with the air. Winemakers may introduce the wine to oxygen while ageing to create a nuttier flavour profile.

What Does Sherry Taste Like?

Most sherries have taste notes of ripe or dried fruits such as raisins, dates, figs or apples, along with almonds or hazelnuts and a slight saltiness. Of course, each sherry will have its own individual and unique taste.

What Grapes Is Sherry Made From?

Sherry is made only from Palomino, Pedro Ximѐnez, or Muscatel grape types, then fortified with distilled grape spirit for extra strength.

How Is Sherry Different From Wine?

Sherry starts life as a standard wine made from Palomino, Pedro Ximѐnez, or Muscatel grape types. The wine is then fortified to increase the alcohol content by adding additional alcohol (usually distilled grape) and left to mature in oak casks for a minimum of 3 years before bottling.

Conclusion

It is worth noting that most of the best sherry for beginners seem to come from Spain and are aged in specific ways to enhance the flavour of the grapes. First-time sherry drinkers will be delighted with the taste of these sublime sherries and perhaps slowly work their way to enjoying them all.

Further Reading

Below are some additional articles from The Drinks Geek blog. We write articles on several fascinating areas of drinks, including different brands, drink types, cocktail recipes and more.

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