With its inherent complexity and warm tones, sherry is an ideal pairing with fall festive flavors that run rich and sweet. Try recipes that call for dry sherry — and then pair a dry sherry like an Oloroso with the dish. Dessert pairings can challenge most wines but not so with a sweet sherry which can summon up enough gusto to go with very sweet desserts including pecan pie and offer enough spice to work with pumpkin or apple.
Sherry credits its unusual and complex flavors to how it’s made, as well as the grapes used, and where they grow in the Jeres region of southern Spain near Morocco. While all wines benefit from yeast which convert the sugars in the grapes into alcohol, the yeast in sherry forms a layer called flor. Sherry wines don’t show a vintage because they are blended from different years using a solera system which means each bottle can contain a minute amount of very old wine. Because sherry has alcohol added, it’s considered a fortified wine.
Like all wines, as soon as it is opened, it will change and begin to deteriorate. The lighter in color the sherry, the faster it fails. Refrigerate after opening, and enjoy that fino or amontillado within a few days, an Oloroso within a few weeks, and sweeter wines within a few months, keeping in mind that with all of them, the clock is ticking and they are best as soon as possible to enjoy the most complexity and character otherwise it will just be good for cooking with (and maybe not even that!)
More information on sherry with each of the four wines below.
Sherry is a fascinating beverage, both for the mind and the palate! International Sherry Week Nov. 8-14 celebrates all that’s sherry with a festival in southern Spain. Closer to home, celebrate sherry with testing out sherry with recipes for the holidays and by purchasing one or more to bring to a gathering for a gift for the host!
- Gonzalez Byass “Alfonso” Dry Oloroso
- Gonzalez Byass Pedro Ximenex ” Nectar”
- Gonzalez Byass Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
- Gonzalez Byass “Solera 1847” Cream Sherry
Gonzalez Byass is one of Spain’s most well-known producers of sherry. Founded in 1835 in Andalusia, the company remains in family hands six generations later.
- She-Crab Sherry Shrimp Bisque
- Sherry Pecan Pumpkin Pie (recipe below)
While the rule of thumb for pairing sherry may be:
- If it swims, Fino.
- If it flies, Amontillado.
- If it runs, Oloroso.
and if it’s dessert, go with cream sherry, a blend, we went with Oloroso sherry in a she-crab and shrimp bisque since it is such a bold, rich soup.
Gonzalez Byass “Alfonso” Oloroso
SRP $17 (375ml)
sample for my review
Chalky soil retains moisture important to this very hot, dry region. Grapes are picked, pressed, fermented to 11-12% then fortified to 18% and placed in the Alfonso Solera where space in the cask allows oxidization over the following eight years.
Color: Golden amber, very light almost platinum rim.
Aroma: Such complexity, caramel apple, baking spices, smells like time the years not the plant. saffron and chamomile, butterscotch, caramel apple, fantastically long finish. coats your palate and is clean at the same time. It is because of the dryness that there is a cleanliness.
Palate: Curry, turmeric, earthiness, sweetness of fenugreek, cumin finish, morrocan spices.
Pairing: With our she-crab shrimp sherry soup OMG, The warmth of the wine and the warmth of the soup are perfect together, the richness of the she crab (crab roe) is cleansed so perfectly with the wine. The parsley garnish brought out a licorice quality in the wine, but was not my favorite.
There are so many alcoholic beverages that you can use to make and enjoy bisque, and so many wines you can pair with it, however, this wine elevates it to a whole new experience. Go for it!
Wonderful wine pairing with the bisque. Use a recipe that uses morrocan spices to go with this wine. Now I want to try it with an oxtail stew!
Gonzalez Byass ” Nectar” Pedro Ximenex
SRP $17 (375ml)
sample for my review
100% Pedro Ximenex
Grapes grown on the chalky soil which retains important moisture are left on the vines longer then sun-dried to about 40% over two weeks to develop rich flavors. Once fermentation stops at 7%, the wine is fortified to 15% then goes into the “Nectar” solera for eight years.
Color: Color of brown sugar with a saffron rim, very dense and dark
Aroma: Saffron, prunes, raisins, turmeric, very earthen,
Palate: So much like syrup on the palate. It is rich and thick like a syrup. Prunes, Thick and voluminous like a marshmallow that expands to coat the palate. For Sue this was not a sipping sherry more of a syrup to enhance a decadent desert. It reminded me of Carro syrup and it reminded Sue of a thinner molasses.
Pairing: Drizzle this over creme brûlée. The nectar brings out the spices in the wine. It is also so nicely balanced with the dish. Oh so yummy one should definitely serve the two for a holiday meal.
Gonzalez Byass “Solera 1847” Cream Sherry
SRP $17 (375ml)
sample for my review
75% Palomino, 25% Pedro Ximenex
To concentrate sugars, Pedro Ximenex grapes stay on the vine longer and then are dried for two weeks on start mats where they lose 40% of moisture due to evaporation, then pressed and fermented to 7%. Following fortification to 15%, it enters the Solera for four years. The Palomino ferments then is fortified to 18%, and goes into the Solera for four years. The two are blended and spend four years in the Solera 1847.
Color: Very translucent, the color of maple syrup with a golden rim.
Aroma: There isn’t an overwhelming aroma with this wine, it is subtle and mostly brown sugar
Palate: Toasted hazelnut, dried current, subtle baking spices, vanilla, butterscotch,
Pairing: The wine is perfect with the pumpkin pecan pie, the texture is great, the flavors are fantastic together. Rich and creamy with a lovely toasted crunch.
Gonzalez Byass Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
SRP $20 (750ml)
sample for my review
80% Palomino, 20% Pedro Ximenex
Grapes are processed, aged in the Solera, then blended with up to four styles of sherry.
Color: Translucent, golden brown sugar, amber with a golden rim.
Aroma: Very earthen, caramel, black walnut.
Palate: Black walnut caramel, nicely dry texture.
Pairing: Pecan pumpkin pie was made for this wine. It is perfect with the spices and perfect with the fluffy quality of the pumpkin sherry custard and the crunchy nuts.
Use this for cooking, use this for dessert; remember to chill before serving. In the world of Sherry this wine is not the most complex, but is definitely desirable and well worth enjoying with your favorite dessert or sipping chilled in front of a fire place or fire pit on a camp out among friends.
For more about Harvey’s and cream sherry ideas, we recently paired Harvey’s Bristol Cream with bread pudding with sherry sauce (read here) and with Halloween candy (read here).
Here’s a few more pie and sherry pairing ideas for sherry from Gonzalez Byass:
Apple Pie with Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Oloroso: produced from 100% Palomino grapes, this dry Sherry is significantly drier than Apple Pie but the toasty flavors pair nicely with the sugar to provide a contrasting taste that averts a cloying effect. The nutty character of the Alfonso pairs perfectly with the cinnamon and clove spices of the Apple Pie
· Pecan Pie with Harveys Bristol Cream: produced from a blend of 80% Palomino and 20% Pedro Ximénez grapes, this semi-sweet Sherry’s velvety character thanks to the addition of the Pedro Ximénez grapes enhances the shared nuttiness in both the pie and the Sherry but respects their differences
· Texas Two Step (a pecan and chocolate brownie pie) with Gonzalez Byass Solera 1847 Cream: produced from a blend of 75% Palomino and 25% Pedro Ximénez grapes, this Sherry with a touch of sweetness pairs nicely with the nuttiness and the not too sweet chocolate in this pie which is balanced by the tangy acidity of the Sherry
Sherry Roasted Pumpkin Pecan Pie
Ingredients for roasted pumpkin pie with sherry:
- 1 pie crust
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 cups roasted pumpkin (about 1 small)
> cut in half, scoop out seeds and strings, place on parchment paper, roast 30 minutes or until fork > tender or substitute with one 15 ounce can of pureed pumpkin
- 1/2 cup Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry
- up to 1/4 cup sugar (optional)
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 t ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t ground nutmeg
- 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
Ingredients for pecan pie topping:
- 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Prepare crust: on floured surface, roll dough to a 1/8-in.-thick circle; transfer to a 9-in. pie pan. Trim crust to 1/2 in. beyond rim of pan; flute edge.
- Beat 2 eggs, pumpkin, sherry, 1/4 c sugar, cream, spices until smooth; pour into crust.
- Combine 2 eggs, pecans, 1/2 c sugar and syrup; spoon evenly over top.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Bake until crust is golden brown and top of pie is set, 40-45 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.
For serving (optional):
- Sherry sauce, ice cream, or whipped topping