Grannies Tipple - Sherry

Grannies Tipple - Sherry

Grannies Tipple - Sherry

Sherry - Grannies Tipple

Sherry - You all know the name but most of you will never drink it let alone buy it.

It has a stigma, Sherry; Sweet, sticky, associated with grannies at Christmas, and often only thought of as an ingredient in making trifle. Although what’s wrong with sherry trifle!

So, what is it about Sherry that has us running for the hills?

Sherry comes from the Jerez region in southern Spain where it has been made for centuries. It is a fortified wine that simply put, is a regular wine base with grape spirit added to it.
There are many different styles available, not all brown, sticky and sweet.
Although there’s a lot more to the whole process than just that simple description, it should suffice for the purpose of this article.

During the 16th century sherry was thought to be the finest wine available in Europe and it’s popularity continued to grow through the following centuries until it’s peak in the 1970’s.
In the 1980’s there was a huge decline in popularity and exports from Spain fell by over a half.
The reason for this decline is unclear but the timeline does coincide with the arrival of cheap and cheerful wines from the USA and Australia.
Coincidence? Who knows?

Grannies are associated with sherry much like old ladies are synonymous with gin.
In grannies earlier years it was thought unladylike for a female to drink hard liquor and wine usually came in the form of claret that was drunk in very small amounts at dinner.
Champagne was expensive and there was little alternative outside of port (thought a more manly choice) or sherry.

So, it became acceptable for females to drink a small tipple of sherry for those special occasions.
The glasses were tiny hourglass shaped thimbles and one small shot was nursed for hours as gulping it down would be seen as unladylike.
For years grannies took pride in having a “special” bottle of sherry that they could knock back occasionally because, to them, it was special and sharing it with you was akin to coming of age.
I wonder if they actually liked the taste. I bet some hated it!

Maybe sherry has a bad rap because, back in the day, it was most teenager’s first taste of alcohol.
Brought out of grannies cupboard, dusted down and a dribble given to unsuspecting victims who were only allowed because it was a special occasion.
The bottle was then put away to oxidize for another year before being brought out again for the same poor souls to endure.

It’s no wonder no one liked it or has fond memories of their sherry torture.
Nothing like being introduced to alcohol gradually!
Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Croft Original still make me shudder today when I hear the name or see the bottle.

Sherry - Grannies Tipple

However, the popularity of sherry is on the up an up again.

It has always been popular for culinary use but there is a bit of a sherry renaissance among the younger crowd.
Sherry has become a fashionable tipple among those who frequent the new wave of Tapas bars popping up in cities around the world.
Accessibility to Spanish cities such as Barcelona and Madrid is cheaper and easier and world-renowned San Sebastian is the place to go for tapas or Pinchos.

The more you learn about sherry the more you’ll learn that climate and geographical location play a huge part in what sherry actually is and tastes like.

It may be Grannies Tipple but, like most wines both regular and fortified, there are other fantastic examples available, not just the stuff sold in the 70’s.
Knowing what they are and where you can find them is key.

Here’s a short description of the most familiar styles of Sherry:


Young and old people alike drink this dry, crisp, nutty, yeasty sherry as a start to an evening or aperitif as it’s a perfect preparation of the palate.
Fino is the freshest and most delicate of sherry styles. Made in barrels that have space at the top to allow a layer of yeast (Flor) to grow on top the liquid that stops oxidization (aging with exposure to air).

You definitely have to make an effort when trying for the first time but once you’ve crossed the line you’ll be forever rewarded.

Fino is akin to a dry martini. Served cold in small glasses and served with salty ham, nuts, olives and hard cheeses.

The sherry won’t last too long after opening so better drink the whole thing!

This Fino is a typical good example to try



This is a fino-style sherry with a distinctive salty tang that comes from where it is made, by the sea in Sanlucar de Barrameda.

Dry and pungent but awesome with dried ham and hard cheeses.

Try this Manzanilla



An aged Fino that has been allowed to oxidize and therefore has some depth

It is amber-coloured, nutty and complex, with a long finish. 

Try this one - Amontillado


Palo Cortado

Half way between Fino and Amontillado, Palo Cortado is a Fino that has lost its flor.

Darker in colour and thicker in viscosity this is nutty, fresh and complex.

A popular style that is great with hard cheeses and blue cheeses.

Try it with a mature cheddar.

This one's worth a go - Palo Cortado



Olorosos develop in barrel (without flor) for many years and are dry styles.

Versatile and easy on the palate they are a place where many of us are happier.

They are great with nuts, blue cheeses and likewise a great match with Christmas cake and mince pies with flavours of dried fruit and spice.

Love Oloroso - give this one a test drive!


Pedro Ximénez or PX for short

Christmas in a glass!

Made from air-dried grapes, Pedro Ximénez is a great wine and a fantastic port alternative.

Doesn’t pair too well with a lot of cheeses but salty blues are an interesting match.

It is really nice poured over ice cream or for macerating chopped fruit.

Try it, it's worth it! PX



Cream Sherries are more commercial products that have been sweetened by the addition of Moscatel or Pedro Ximénez.

Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Croft Original have been made this way.


“Sherry reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol”.

I read that somewhere so it must be true!

So, give these guys a try, they are definitely different and as an underdog lover I’m a fan of them.
Their method of production is an art in itself and the tradition associated with it is enough to make one want to at least give it the benefit of the doubt.
You will be pleasantly surprised.

I will admit, I love sherry and although I am grey (under the hair dye) I am certainly not a granny! I do use it in cooking though – a lot.

Drink This: 

Try this cracking Amontillado - it's pretty special

Amontillado Sherry
Wine Tags: 

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