10 Tips for Sherry Lovers & Wine Geeks Visiting Sevilla and Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
It’s no secret; I adore Sherry.
And if you love Sherry too, you’re probably aware of the vibrant tapas-and-Sherry culture in Sevilla, the Andalusia region’s capital and largest city.
This fall I had the opportunity to spend some extended time in Sevilla, my favorite city in Spain, and Jerez de la Frontera the birthplace of Sherry.
If you are a Sherry lover and wine geek like me, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your visit to Sevilla and Jerez de la Frontera that I’ve discovered over my many years of visits.
1. Drink Manzanilla Rather than Fino Sherry Like the Locals
Manzanilla and Fino Sherry are very similar.
They are both pale lemon in color with pronounced aromas of bread dough and almonds with a distinct tangy and salty flavor.
But because Manzanilla is aged in the humid and coastal town of Salúcar de Barrameda rather than inland like Fino, the wine there develops a thicker layer of flor (yeast) which results in a wine with more-intense and tangier aromas than Fino.
Not only have I personally observed restaurant patrons ordering Manzanilla more often than Fino, I’ve encountered drink menus where Fino isn’t even listed at all as an option while Manzanilla is.
Years ago, I read an article (which I can’t seem to locate at the moment) with Sherry sales and export figures that made the case that Andalusians drink Manzanilla and export Fino.
This tracks with what I’ve experienced in the United States where it’s a lot tougher to find Manzanilla on store shelves than Fino.
Now this isn’t to suggest that Andalusians don’t also drink Fino, but if I was in Sevilla having drinks with a local I’d order a Manzanilla.
Plus, it’s fun to sample Manzanilla from producers you’re unlikely to find back home.
2. Seek Out Sherry Events and Festivals
When I visited Jerez de la Frontera in September, I lucked out to also be visiting during the two-week Sherry festival, Fiestas de la Vendimia Jerez.
In addition to googling “Sherry events” and the name of the city you’re visiting, you can also check out Sherry Wines, an online resource that details Sherry events happening in the region as well as internationally.
It’s because of this website that I stumbled upon the Copa Jerez Forum & Competition, the world’s largest Sherry wine and gastronomy event that takes place every two years in Jerez de la Frontera and this year during International Sherry Week in November.
And guess who just booked a ticket to attend?
Sevilla hosts festivals throughout the year where Sherry is prominent such as the Feria de Abril festival in April where Manzanilla is prominently featured.
Whether you’re planning a trip around a specific Sherry event or you just want to find out what’s happening when you’re in town, it’s worth doing some quick research that could offer you some unique experiences.
I stumbled upon my first-ever, pop-up sherry bar offering the opportunity to sample a range of sherries from different producers for 1-2 Euro. In my happy space (and yes I went through almost all the sherries). #jerez #jerezdelafrontera #sherry #popupsherrybar @ciudadjerez pic.twitter.com/dwAjvtEFeJ— Wine Casual (@winecasualHQ) September 19, 2021
3. If You See Palo Cortado on a Menu, Order Palo Cortado – There’s Not a Lot of It Produced
Because of the way Palo Cortado is produced it is especially rare in terms of production volume, yet it is considered to be among the finest of Sherries.
When flor (yeast) fails in the production of Fino Sherry, producers may reclassify the resulting wine as Palo Cortado — essentially a “Failed Fino.”
Palo Cortado has some of the doughiness of Fino combined with some of the weight, walnut and leather of Amontillado and Oloroso Sherry as the wine goes through both biological and oxidative aging.
In terms of taste, Palo Cortado can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from Amontillado and Oloroso Sherry.
Given how little of it is produced if you see Palo Cortado on a menu served by the glass, order it and acquaint yourself with the range of Palo Cortado styles that can exist especially given how little of the production probably ever leaves Spain.
When you return home you’ll be glad to have had the experience of sampling Palo Cortado from a range of producers by the glass at an affordable price.
4. Try a Multi-Course Meal Paired Only with Sherry
Whether you order Sherry by the glass to pair with each course of your meal or you find a restaurant that offers a degustation menu with a Sherry pairing, give yourself the opportunity to experience a meal with only Sherry wines.
Sherry isn’t just an “add-on” wine, it can play a starring role at the dinner table.
I’ve had the opportunity enjoy multi-course Sherry pairings in the U.S. mostly as a special treat offered by restaurants during International Sherry Week, but in Andalusia, you can enjoy this experience more frequently.
If you’re in Jerez de la Frontera, I recommend taking a meal at La Carboná where you can get a multi-course meal paired with Sherry that is executed exquisitely well.
I enjoyed my experience there so much I’m planning to visit again next month when I’m in town for International Sherry Week.
(3 of 4) Palo Cartado 20-year-old VORS Sherry by @bodegaswilliams paired with veal sweetbreads glazed w/palo cortado (4th of 8 courses – getting tipsier). #palocartado #sherry #jerez #jerezdelafrontera #sweetbreads #williamshumbert pic.twitter.com/gHAbfa3d4P— Wine Casual (@winecasualHQ) September 26, 2021
5. Enjoy a Glass of Red Vermouth Over Ice Before You Begin Your Sherry Course
In Sevilla I learned to enjoy a glass of red vermouth as an aperitif over ice with a twist of orange slice.
Vermouth readies your palate and heightens your senses for the next course.
But don’t order just any old red vermouth.
If you see Martini & Rossi branded logos on napkins or signage in the restaurant you’re dining in just skip the vermouth course and go directly to Sherry.
Look for quality red vermouths from producers like Lustau or Gonzalez Byass or the myriad of boutique vermouth producers that exist.
Don’t be afraid to inquire about the brand of vermouth a restaurant is pouring and ask them to upgrade your drink with a higher-quality producer if they can.
(1 of 4) How to serve and drink red vermouth as part of an 8-course meal paired w/ 8-different sherry wines at @Michelin-rated restaurant, La Carbona, in Jerez de Frontera, Spain. #jerez #jerezdelafrontera #lacarbona #vermouth @BodegasLustau #vermut #sherry pic.twitter.com/jFbjcwcTyB— Wine Casual (@winecasualHQ) September 26, 2021
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Sherry Even If You Don’t See It Listed on the Menu
Sherry is often available even if you don’t see it listed on the menu especially in many smaller bars and restaurants.
It’s like ordering a Manhattan.
Just because you don’t see it listed in the cocktails section of a drinks menu, doesn’t mean it’s not available if you ask.
7. Visit the Mercado de Triana and Enjoy the Food, Sherry & Culture
The Mercado de Triana is made up of a series of food and drink stalls.
This is my favorite place to visit in Sevilla which I visit at least every couple of days when I’m there because there is great food, Sherry and people watching.
Plus, there are restaurants along the street next to the back entrance of the market where you can relax after experiencing the life of the market.
Not to be missed is Aceitunas El Puente in the market which carries a wide Sherry selection for around 2-3 Euro a glass.
You can sit at a table right next to the stall and sample a range of Sherries.
The store owner who whistles while he works is kind and patient as you sit and sample multiple Sherries at your own pace.
You can also pick up bottles of 30-year-old Sherry here among other goodies.
8. Pair Sherry with Jamon
For my carnivores out there, the signature Jamon Iberico of the region pairs fantastically with Sherry.
The meat, fat and fullness of the jamon especially compliments the tanginess of Manzanilla or Fino Sherry.
You can get freshly-sliced jamon that’s often served with crackers or in a sandwich.
Take in the artistry of how jamon is sliced.
There are many jamon booths in the Mercado de Triana to choose from as well as plenty of restaurants around the city that serve jamon as a tapa.
During my visits to Sevilla, I find a plate of jamon every 2-3 days to be mandatory.
9. Pair Sherry with a View
Sherry pairs especially well with a beautiful view, particularly a river view.
Across from the Mercado de Triana you’ll find a restaurant, Mariatrifulca, that offers stunning rooftop views.
It’s a little pricey but it’s worth the splurge for the experience.
Pro Tip: If you’re itching to visit Mariatrifulca and want the best rooftop seat stop by after the lunch rush at 4:00 p.m. and you can likely get a seat without a wait or reservation like I did.
There are also a host of restaurants that offer spectacular views along both sides of the river – especially the Triana side.
(3a of 3) This is just a bonus post just for the beautiful river views from the rooftop of MariaTrifulcra. Worth the splurge. #seville #Sevilla #mariatrifulca @maria_trifulca pic.twitter.com/EjcnlW2N0m— Wine Casual (@winecasualHQ) October 2, 2021
10. Take Sherry Home with You
You can find Sherry in supermarkets, mercados and even drug stores, but for the best selection try a proper wine shop.
I find wine shops in different countries to be intrinsically interesting, but even if you don’t you can’t beat the Sherry selection from producers you’ll never find on the shelves back home.
My wine suitcase only holds 6 bottles of wine, and you can bet when I leave I have every slot filled.
Pro Tip: If you can, wait until the end of your trip to stock up on Sherry so you don’t weigh down your luggage prematurely if you’re traveling to different cities during your visit.
I like to fly roundtrip to Sevilla and take a roundtrip train to Jerez de la Frontera, so I buy a lot of Sherry when I’m on the out-going leg of my trip.
I hope you found some of the tips above to be helpful.
Please feel free to share Sherry tips you’ve picked up along the way in the comments.
And of course, enjoy all the Sherry experiences that Sevilla and Jerez de la Frontera have to offer!
Check out the posts below from other Sherry lovers and enthusiasts who appreciate the wines of Andalusia from the #WorldWineTravel group:
- Lynn of Savor the Harvest reveals Three Facts About Sherry and Why You Need to Try a Bottle.
- Jeff Burrows of Food Wine Click! asks Sherry is a Fortified Wine, or is It?
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator…Gwendolyn Alley declares Spanish Songs in Andalucía with Soup and Sherry: Oh My Corazón.
- Terri of Our Good Life gives us A Beginner’s Guide to Amontillado and Spanish Tapas.
- Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog serves up 2018 Jorge Ordoñez & Co. Moscatel Old Vines Botani + Trout Tartine with Stone Fruit.
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm brings us A Friday Night Cocktail that starts with Alvear Tres Miradas Vino de Pueblo 2018.
- Susannah of Avvinare is Learning to Love Sherry One Style at a Time.
- Nicole of Somm’s Table dishes Bodegas Dios Baco PX and a Banana Cake.
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla offers Tapas on Toast: Spanish Montaditos + 2017 Sierras de Málaga Laderas de Sedella Anfora.