What Sherry type pairs with each food?

Pairing sherry with food is easier than people believe. The first thing you have to learn is a saying used in Spain, “If it swims use Fino/Manzanilla, if it flies Amontillado, and if it runs Oloroso.

By knowing this we can make a big assumption to help beginners of sherry learn to pair it with food. Fino and Manzanilla are treated similarly to a white wine, Amontillado similarly to a rose or to a light-medium bodied red wine with medium-low tannins. Whereas, Oloroso is treated as a full-bodied red wine with medium-high tannins.

More Complex Pairings

The Spanish saying above is a good guideline to follow for pairing sherry and food. However if we want to go deeper, we have to think about the sauce and the condiments used with the food, as well as all the other types of sherries, including of course Palo Cortado. For example, if we use a mushroom sauce with a fish steak like Tuna, Oloroso would pair well with it. Since the mushroom sauce gives an earthy taste, combined with the meat-like texture of the tuna steak, it pairs well with a full body and earthy/nutty tasting notes like the Oloroso.

The idea of pairing food with Sherry is almost the same as any other type of wine pairing, with the exception that you do not have to worry about the tannins. You have to look at the body of the Sherry and the body of the food. As well, you have to consider the category of taste of the food – salty, sweet, umami (savoury), acidic, spicy, bitter.

Sherry Pairings by Food Type

Below is a good guide to follow when pairing wine with food that dominates a category:

Pairing food with Sherry Cream Vejer de la FronteraSweet food:

a.  Will decrease the sweetness of the wine, the body and fruitiness in the wine.

b.  Will increase the bitterness, acidity and burning effect of the alcohol.

For example, think about a chocolate cake and then you add strawberries on top, the strawberry will taste less sweet, less fruity due to the sweetness of the cake than if you had it separately.

Pairing: With a sweet dessert, a PX (Pedro Ximénez) would go wonderfully due to the extreme sweetness. You can even pour PX on top of ice cream like a syrup.



tapa albufarra con palo cortado jerez sherry vejer de la frontera pueblo blanco white village Cadiz Explore la TierraUmami (Savoury) food:

a.  Will decrease the sweetness of the wine, the body and fruitiness in the wine.

b.  Will increase the bitterness, acidity and burning effect of the alcohol.

As an example, if you have a cooked mushroom or cured meat with a tomato, it reduces the slight sweetness of the tomato and the fruitiness. Or if you try it with a squeeze of lemon juice, you will experience that the acidity of the lemon is increased.

Pairing: Try Chorizo with Palo Cortado. As Palo Cortado usually has low-medium acidity and more body and nuttiness, that would go well with a strong, flavoured food like chorizo.


Boquerones in vinegar tapa paired with a SherryAcidic food:

a.  Will decrease the perception of acidity in the wine

b.  Will increase the body, sweetness and fruitiness of the wine

Think about a adding lemon juice to an already acid vinaigrette, it does not add as much, does it? However if you add a fruit like strawberries to a vinaigrette salad it should increase the fruitiness of the strawberry.

Pairing: Pair a vinaigrette salad or an acidic fish with a Fino/Manzanilla. It will increase the body, the nuttiness and bakery taste of these wines. Even if the acidity of the wine is reduced, the Fino is complex enough that it does not rely entirely on the acidity like other white wines do. Fino freshness comes from the lack of sugars in dry sherry and the presence of acetaldehydes and minerals from the albariza soils, which could be mistaken for acidity.


Tapa manzanilla con pescaito frito Explore la Tierra Conil de la Frontera Cadiz tapa tourSalty food:

a.  Will decrease the perception of bitterness and acidity in the wine

b.  Will increase the body of the wine

For example, think about adding vinegar to salty chips, the acidity of the vinegar is countered by the salt.

Pairing: A Manzanilla goes lovely with salted fried fish. It decreases that slight bitterness of the Manzanilla, while increasing the body perception, created by being aged under the “flor”.


tapa aceitunas olives con manzanilla jerez sherry vejer de la frontera pueblo blanco white village Cadiz Explore la Tierra-min

Bitter food:

a.  Will increase bitterness in the wine

Try having an olive with a green asparagus, the bitterness of one will increase the bitterness of the other.

Pairing: With asparagus or artichoke, try having an Amontillado. Amontillado also goes well with bitter foods because of the freshness of it.

However, olives can go well with Fino or Manzanilla, because, like before, these sherries are very refreshing. Even if the olive would increase the bitterness of the sherry, Fino and Manzanilla goes well with the saltiness of the olive.

Spicy Food and Spices Paired with SherrySpicy food:

a.  Will decrease the body, richness, sweetness and fruitiness

b.  Will increase the bitterness, acidity and alcohol burn

Another example is to consider the taste of dark chocolate with chili. It goes well together as it decreases the richness and sweetness and, on the other hand, increases the bitterness of the chocolate.

Pairing: Spiced curry with an Oloroso or Palo Cortado. It will increase the acidity, while decreasing the thick body of the sherry and the strong, nutty taste.

Get in touch!

If you want to join our small group tours in our Sherry & Tapas Tour, or other tours, and taste the differences between the different sherries, learn how to do a professional wine tasting and how to pair wine with food, come and join Explore la Tierra in Vejer de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain!!

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