The first thing to bear in mind is the simple fact that Sherry is a wine. As such, it is a natural product that develops over time and should be drunk within a reasonable time of being bottled.
Bottles of sherry, as is the case with any other quality wine, should be treated with respect so that the wine therein may suffer as little as possible on its journey from the bodega to final consumption.
Generally speaking sherry does not improve once it has been bottled, its particular ageing system being closely linked with its fascinating sojourn inside the wooden cask. Sherry wine therefore reaches its optimal point for consumption at the moment it is withdrawn from the butt. We should not expect it to improve inside the bottle and, in fact, once it has passed a certain time there we are able to detect a certain deterioration of some of the wine's organoleptic qualities.
Once in the bottle the maximum period of time during which sherry will maintain its original characteristics depends upon the type of sherry in question. The most delicate wines are logically those aged biologically (finos and manzanillas) and taking them from the cask produces an important change in their habitat, suddenly leaving them unprotected by the film of yeast which until this moment has prevented oxidation.
Like all good wines, Sherry Wines must be treated with respect and benefit from a little chilling.
How to Store Sherry Wines
Other types of Sherry which are aged in contact with air, Olorosos, Pedro Ximénez, etc..., possess very high levels of stability as a consequence of the intense oxidation process undergone inside the butt. Over the past few years Sherry firms have incorporated significant technological advances into the bottling process and these days even biologically aged wines are able to maintain their organoleptic qualities intact for long periods of time. Modern filtration processes and the use of inert gas to replace any oxygen which may possibly enter the bottle are techniques which enable sherry lovers all over the world to enjoy these wines as if they were still inside the bodega itself.
Having said this, it is always useful to bear in mind certain maximum periods of time during which any wine may be kept in the bottle, after which it starts to lose some of its organoleptic characteristics. This process is logically accelerated once the bottle has been opened. Although in the case of sherry it is not absolutely essential to drink the bottle in one go, direct contact with oxygen present in the air brought about by removing the cork from the bottle accelerates the natural development of the wine.
As with any other type of quality wine the bottles must be kept in a dark, quiet place with no temperature fluctuations or vibrations. Unlike other wines, sherry bottles should be stored upright in order to reduce the surface of wine exposed to oxidation to a minimum.
- Once bottled, the wine is ready for consumption.
- Store you bottles of Sherry in a quiet, dark place which is free of extreme temperature changes or vibrations.
- Store bottles in a vertical position so as to reduce the surface exposed to oxidation.
- Once opened, store bottles with the cork firmly in place, and in the case of Finos and Manzanillas, keep always in the fridge.
- To fully appreciate the qualities of Sherry it is important to consume it within a reasonably short time. This length of time varies depending on the type.
As a general guideline, and always on the condition that the bottles have been carefully transported and stored without suffering any major fluctuations in temperature, we may say that these periods are the following:
Fino / Manzanilla
- Closed bottle - up to 1 year
- Open bottle (*) - one week
Other Sherry Wines
- Closed bottle - up to 3 years
- Open bottle (*) - 2 months
VOS / VORS
- Closed bottle - undetermined
- Open bottle (*) - 3 months
(*) Tightly corked in the refrigerator.
How to Serve Sherry Wines
The Art of Drinking
The traditional wine tasting glass (if it is large enough) is an ideal glass for Sherry served as an aperitif or dessert wine. However we recommend a good quality generic white wine glass with a generous bowl which will allow the wine to breathe and a long stem so that the wine stays cool. This is always the best choice of glass to enjoy Sherry at the table during the meal. To fully appreciate the wines we don't recommend the use of the small glass (the “copita” or “Sherry glass”) as it does not allow the wine to fully express itself.
With the exception of Finos and Manzanillas there is no fixed rule about serving temperatures as these depend on what one is eating, but here are some general recommendations:
Finos and Manzanillas
Always serve chilled, between 5° and 7° degrees
Between 7° and 9° degrees
Other wines aged oxidatively and blends:
Between 12° and 14° degrees
VOS and VORS:
Approximately 15° degrees