Sherry and tapas: A pairing guide

Sherry and tapas

Despite being known around the world surprisingly few people actually know much about Sherry. There are many styles, ranging from the driest of dry wines to the complex ultra-sweet, and each has its own unique character. There truly is a Sherry for every occasion, making it an excellent gastronomic wine.

All Sherry wines have three things in common. Firstly, they all come from the area around Jerez de la Frontera in southwestern Spain, possibly the oldest wine-making region in the country, where vines have been grown since shortly after the founding of Cádiz by the Phoenicians three thousand years ago. Secondly, they are fortified (to varying degrees), with extra alcohol added in the form of distilled grape spirit. Thirdly, they are aged through the solera/criadera system, a way of maturing and blending wines of different ages in a large number of oak casks. The barrels are not completely filled, allowing the wine to be either exposed to the air and aged oxidatively or aged biologically under a protective layer of yeast (called the ‘velo de flor’). 

Sherry wines are also becoming popular as a lower-alcohol base for cocktails, often replacing gin or vodka. Try using fino for a twist on a Bloody Mary: to make a Bloody Sherry add 75ml fino, 200ml tomato juice, a pinch of salt and pepper and a splash of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to a glass with ice and stir to mix. Or what about a Sherry Fizz? Fill a glass with ice, add 50ml amontillado, a splash of Italicus (or other citrus liqueur), lime juice and sugar syrup, then top with tonic water and stir to mix.

Two more simple traditional cocktails to try at home are the Rebujito (fino or manzanilla in a tumbler of ice topped up with lemonade, garnished with mint sprigs) or a Sherry Cobbler (cream Sherry over ice with a slice of fresh orange). 

The best glassware for Sherry, if you can’t find a large ‘catavinos’, is a standard white wine glass filled approximately one third, giving the wine room to breathe. 

Here we take you on a virtual Sherry and tapas tasting. Much more than just an aperitif, the diverse range of styles and flavours of Sherry wines can take you through an entire meal from start to finish – and we include a few, possibly surprising, non-Spanish pairing suggestions. 


Manchego cheese and cold meats. Credit: a-plus image bank / Alamy Stock Photo

The name says it all – an elegant, crisp dry wine, one of the driest white wines in the world. The biological ageing process, under the protective velo de flor, means that the wine is not in contact with the oxygen above it in the cask; as yeast is a living organism and needs to eat, most of the residual sugars and glycerine are gone before the wine reaches the solera barrels (the level of the system containing the oldest wine). Its natural salinity and light acidity make fino a perfect partner for anything salty.

Pairings: Ibéricos are classic, as are cheeses, shellfish and baked or fried fish dishes, but fino is also an excellent match for ceviche or fish and chips. 

Try: Gonzalez Byass, Tio Pepe En Rama, Jerez, Spain, 2020


Tortillita de camarones (shrimp fritters), a speciality of Cádiz. Credit: Barra Inchausti

This wine of the sea can only be made in one town, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, nestled in a nook near the mouth of the Guadalquivir river. Due to its particular mesoclimate, temperatures don’t get as hot in summer or as cold in winter as in other Sherry-producing areas. As a result, the all-important velo de flor stays robust all year round, imparting its unique, distinctive characteristics to this delicate and nuanced pale dry Sherry.

Pairings: Tortillita de camarones, grilled prawns, clams in garlic sauce, cured or tinned fish, olives, seafood paella, white fish, sushi and sashimi.

Try: Bodegas Hidalgo, La Gitana Manzanilla En Rama 2023 Release, Jerez, Spain


Braised artichokes with jamón – usually difficult to pair. Credit: Victoria Eugenia

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Sherry and tapas: A pairing guide Sherry and tapas: A pairing guide *Sherry and tapas: A pairing guide