Sherry is a fortified wine, with a stronger taste and a higher alcohol content than most wines that aren’t fortified. As a result, it may not pair well with certain meals–but, pairing sherry with cuisine properly can create a favorable culinary combination, provided you match the sherry to the right meal.
A Prime Aperitif–Sherry Pairings with Appetizers
Sherry is often served as an aperitif, alongside appetizers or h’ors d’ouevres, to whet the appetite in anticipation of the main courses. This culinary pairing, which is common with other fortified wines such as Porto and Madeira, may be the best method of easing yourself into a sherry-and-food pairing.
Many sherry wines have nutty aromas, including hazelnut, almond and walnut. As a result, almonds and sherry–particularly a light, chilled Fino or Manzanilla–make for a simple and flavorful appetizer-and-sherry pairing. Salad with a toasted almond or sesame vinaigrette dressing is another satisfying meal combined with sherry.
Sherry and Main Courses?
Sherry isn’t typically served alongside main courses. The heavy alcohol by volume (ABV) of most sherries–anywhere between 15 and 22 percent ABV–tends to overpower the taste of most flavored dishes.
Those who wish to defy this conventional culinary wisdom may be pleasantly surprised if the right food and the right sherry are chosen. For instance, a strong Oloroso, which is one of the dry sherry varieties, can be served alongside strongly-flavored red meat dishes–beef, pork, venison–with excellent results. Additionally, lighter fino sherries may complement certain seafood dishes quite well, including shrimp and other shellfish.
The Ultimate Digestif: Sherry Alongside Dessert Courses or On its Own
In the general culinary world, sherry is often saved for use as an aperitif or a digestif. The flavors of the wine, in addition to the aforementioned high ABV, make it better suited to dishes served in smaller portions, or alongside sweet dishes.
Sherry, like its fortified ilk such as Porto and Madeira, is frequently served alongside dessert dishes. Sweet varieties of sherry, such as Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez, may even contain enough sweetness to eliminate the need for an actual dessert. The benefits of sherry after a meal aren’t solely limited to taste, as implied by the word “digestif,” part of the terminology associated with sherry. The strength and flavors of the fortified beverage may help with digestion after you’re finished eating.