How many Sherry brands can you name? For many people, just one: Dry Sack Sherry. Dry Sack is a medium sweet blended Sherry, well known on the shelves of European supermarkets and hypermarkets. Launched in 1906 by Bodegas Williams & Humbert, the brand is an inexpensive introduction to the world of Sherry wines (also known as Jerez or Xérès).
Dry Sack Sherry is a blend of the Pedro Ximenez and Palomino grape varieties, grown at Williams & Humbert’s vineyards in the Jerez Superior region. Blending takes place early in the winemaking process. After vinification, the wine is aged for six years using the traditional solera method. Using this technique, small quantities of young wine are blended with more mature wine over an extended period of time. This gives the wine flavour, character and balance.
Pour a glass of Dry Sack Sherry and the first thing you’ll notice will be its colour. The wine has a deep amber hue, suggestive of its winemaking techniques and aging. Swirl the Sherry in your glass, take a deep sniff, you will expect an intense nose of dried nuts (such as almonds and peanuts) and dried fruits (think dates and figs). You may even detect some toffee, caramel and honey character. There is a lot going on, the aromas are generous and complex. On the palate, Dry Sack Sherry is very popular as its style is well balanced between dry and sweet. Its light sweetness isn’t cloying, but makes for a nice compromise between fully dry and fully sweet styles. There is some tanginess on the mouth, bittersweet rather than sweet. The dried fruits and nuts of the nose are present here, though perhaps more akin to apple, apricot and raisin in nature. Again, there is a complexity of flavour, and this will surely have you reaching for a second taste. When served over ice, Dry Sack Sherry makes for an interesting alternative to rosé wine or Champagne on a hot summer’s day.
Alternatives to Dry Sack Sherry
While Dry Sack Sherry is a well-known brand, it is by no means the only example of Sherry. Indeed, the Sherry category is very broad with styles ranging from very sweet to bone dry and a lot in between. Those that have tried and enjoyed Dry Sack should consider trying some of these alternatives.
From the Pedro Ximenez grape, this Amontillado Sherry has a similar amber colour to Dry Sack. There is good richness and nutty character, and again it is delicious when served chilled or over ice. Even better is the price tag, which offers real value for money.
This Fino style Sherry has not undergone the same amount of aging as the Amontillado above, and so is more delicate in style. Light-bodied and dry, this wine has a moderate alcohol content of 15%, and is best served chilled with a dessert such as chocolate, ice cream or with a cheese board.
The Manzanilla pasada from Bodegas Barbadillo is dry and relatively full-bodied. It offers a greater body and mouthfeel than the Fino style from Hidalgo, and more pungent aromas than the Amontillado from Piedra Luenga. The palate is crisp and will complement most desserts when served slightly chilled.