Sherry, hailing from the Andalusia region of Spain, is known for its nutty texture and sweet, fruity taste, and it’s an excellent addition to many meals. Great for drinking and cooking, it’s imperative that you store sherry correctly to maintain flavor, structure, and balance. The best way to store sherry tends to vary depending on the type you have on hand.
Here’s how to store sherry the right way:
- Learn the types of sherries and their shelf life.
- Keep opened bottles of sherry in the fridge.
- Store sealed bottles upright in a cool place.
- Freeze cooking sherry for ease of use.
- Sherry never truly “goes bad.”
Sherry tastes a whole lot better when you’ve stored it correctly, so in the rest of this article, I’ll go through the different types and the ways in which you can store them. Follow these tips if you want to keep your sherry tasting better for longer.
1. Learn the Types of Sherries and Their Shelf Life
If you know the difference between the contrasting sherries, you’ll be able to keep them much fresher for much longer. Since sherry is a fortified wine made with lots of sugar and a higher alcohol percentage than most wines, it’ll generally last a decent amount of time in storage.
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However, some types of sherry are slightly more fragile than others, so you’ll want to remember this if you want to maximize shelf life. For simplicity, you can quickly check the label on the bottle you purchase to estimate its expiry date.
Here are some examples of sherries that have different shelf lives:
- A Palo Cortado sherry: This rare and refined brand is very light and delicate, and will last unopened for about three years. But it will last up to 3 months when opened.
- Oloroso sherry: This will typically last slightly longer uncorked, with 5 years in an unopened bottle and up to 3 months when opened.
- Amontillado sherry: Known for its dry and well-aged, robust texture, this will last about 3 years in a sealed bottle but will only last up to 2 months unsealed.
- Fino sherry: One of the most popular options widely available in supermarkets, it is aged in barrels, so it’s slightly more delicate. It should be consumed within a couple of days after the bottle has been opened.
- Creamy sherry: One of the more intense flavors of sherry and ultimately the sweetest, it needs to be consumed within three months if it has been opened.
Looking at the sell-by date or the expiration date on your bottle will give you a good idea of how long to store it if you don’t have any intention of opening it right away.
Although sherry does have a recommended shelf life, it doesn’t necessarily go bad. Any sherry that isn’t creamy or delicate may just lose its robust taste and texture, but nothing will happen to you if you drink it after the recommended expiration period.
2. Keep Opened Bottles of Sherry in the Fridge
If you’ve bought a bottle of sherry and you have already opened it, the fridge is the best place to store it. Maintaining a consistent temperature is the best way to ensure that the quality of the sherry doesn’t deteriorate.
Here are a few tips on storing an open bottle of sherry:
- Always ensure you reseal the bottle correctly. If the cork no longer fits the bottle, you can easily decant it into another bottle with a good seal.
- Try to ensure that you store your unsealed bottle in an upright position. Doing this will prevent oxidation from occurring faster.
- You can unseal and seal it again if you wish to serve it, as there’s no problem with this.
- Bear in mind that once you have broken the seal on the bottle, the contents will be compromised at a much faster rate than if the seal wasn’t broken.
- If you can, purchase a wine fridge. Using a standard fridge is fine, but there’ll be some temperature fluctuations every time you open the door.
Once you’ve opened your bottle of sherry, a general rule of thumb to follow is to drink it as quickly as possible, while still enjoying it, of course. However, if you’d rather take your time with it, storing it in the fridge is an acceptable solution until the bottle is finished.
3. Store Sealed Bottles Upright in a Cool Place
Sealed bottles of sherry don’t generally need a fridge to stay in good shape. If you have a wine cellar or a pantry of some kind, this is perfectly fine. A sealed bottle of sherry needs a dark, cool place, with consistently cold temperatures of around 53°F (11.67°C).
Consistency is critical here, as it’ll prevent oxidation of your bottle and keep it fresh. As always, bear in mind the type of sherry you have purchased so you know how long it’ll stay fresh in a sealed bottle.
For example, Fino sherry, a biologically-aged sherry wine, needs to be consumed relatively quickly after bottling.
4. Freeze Cooking Sherry for Ease of Use
Cooking sherry is typically a type of wine that has been strengthened with brandy, making its exceptional taste great for culinary experimentation. Although sherry has a reputation for being used only in dessert-making, it’s also a very popular choice for savory dishes of all kinds, especially creamy dishes or mushroom side platters.
Since wine tends to freeze at lower temperatures because of the content of alcohol, sherry needs consistent temperatures of around 15°F (-9.44°C) in order to freeze properly.
You can use an ice tray to freeze your cooking sherry quickly. This is the most convenient way to freeze cooking sherry because it means you can store it in small chunks ready for cooking and keep more of them.
Bear in mind that freezing sherry, even if it’s used for cooking, will slightly change the drink’s taste. Luckily, you don’t need to defrost your cooking sherry once you need to use it, as you can just take one of the cubes and pop it into your pan.
5. Sherry Never Truly “Goes Bad”
The truth is, sherry doesn’t really expire. While the taste may be a bit dull and lifeless if left too long unsealed, it won’t expire in the same way many foods do.
If you drink sherry that has passed its recommended expiration date, you may not even notice it if you aren’t a fortified wine connoisseur. As long as you’ve stored it as best you can, either in the fridge, cellar, or pantry, you’ll be fine drinking it however you like.
Remember that nothing will happen if you drink this sherry, but it may just taste a bit bland.
Storing your sherry is a relatively simple task if you know which sherry you have purchased. To ensure that you have stored your sherry the right way and to make it last as long as possible, remember the following:
- Check the expiration label on the bottom.
- Store sealed sherry somewhere dark with consistent temperatures.
- Store opened sherry in the fridge, or freeze it to use in cooking.