The fortified wine of Spain known as Sherry is in trouble. Once a popular aperitif, it’s now dwindling in popularity. Many are quick to point to the overabundance of the stuff, making it rather cheap in price. Perhaps if it were harder to come by, people would jump at the chance to drink it.
Perhaps a bottle of it graces the top shelf of your home bar. Gathering dust and looking rustic, you probably grab other spirits in favor of the fortified wine from Andalucía. Maybe you think it’s something grandmas drink when they finally send their grandchildren back home to their parents, yet head to Spain and you’ll see the most macho of men enjoying Sherry with tapas.
Outside of Spain, Sherry is sadly misunderstood and not consumed as often as it should be. One of the biggest misconceptions about this libation is that it’s a spectrum of different styles. You have Fino and Manzanilla, the 2 driest styles. You have Amontillado, a toasty, spicy, medium-dry Sherry. You have Oloroso which is denser and a bit sweet. Then there’s cream Sherry and Pedro Ximénez with the delightfully sweet flavor of raisins.
Perhaps why you’re not enjoying your Sherry is that it needs to be chilled. It also shouldn’t be sitting there gathering dust on your bar. It needs to be tasted while fresh. That being said, when you open a bottle of Sherry, it should spend no more than a few days to a week in your refrigerator or it will be easy to see why you aren’t fond of it.
Knowing this, it makes sense why Sherry isn’t being indulged as much as it should be. It’s different from other wines because it has such severity in styles. The key to bringing it back into a renaissance lies with the emerging popularity of tapas bars. As what’s old is new again reemerges into the mainstream, Sherry just might get the second chance it so dearly deserves.
Although 2018 saw sweet Sherry types composing about 50% of Sherry sales, much of that consumption is from an aging generation. While our elders know a thing or two, as tastes change, the impact could mean a cut of 20 million liters by the time we hit 2025.
What can Spain do to encourage a renaissance? The best strategy is to focus on the younger generation and appeal to their tastes with the other styles. Sweeter wines are on the decline but few people realize that Sherry isn’t always a sweet-style wine. With the growing popularity of these tapas and Sherry bars though, there is much opportunity to create a new following of the younger set.
After all, Sherry is really very flexible in style. Putting the focus on these other styles of the iconic fortified wine will help it to have the right reach in the future.