Dry and naturally sweet, sherry is one of the finest and most versatile of aged wines. It can be used in cooking, in mixed beverages, or enjoyed straight from the bottle.
Once you have cracked open a bottle of sherry, you might find yourself wondering. Will this go bad? And, how should I store it?
Bottom Line: Sherry is a wine. And like other wines, it will go bad.
What Is Sherry?
Sherry has become a menu mainstay in wineries and bars. Delicious on its own or as part of a mixed drink, sherry can be used in a variety of ways.
So, what is it? Sherry is a dry wine, aged through the solera method. This is when spirits from various ages are mixed together, giving sherry its complex flavor and higher alcohol content. This means any bottle of sherry contains a mix of younger and older wines.
Originating from Spain, sherry was originally made of white grapes grown in Jerez de la Frontera. Jerez translates to sherry in English, which is how this wine got its name.
There is a multitude of sherry varieties, ranging from sweeter wines to even cream varieties of sherry. No matter the type of sherry, each is typically drier and has a rich, complex flavor.
Shelf Life Of Unopened Sherry
If you received a bottle of sherry as a gift and placed it on your wine rack only to be discovered months or years later, you might find yourself wondering if it is still good to crack open. A sealed bottle of sherry will last for a year to multiple years, depending on the type of sherry.
Below is an estimate of the shelf life of an unopened bottle of sherry, depending on its type. Check your label to see what type of sherry it is.
- Fino or Manzanilla will last 12 to 18 months when unopened.
- Amontillado or Medium Sweet varieties of sherry will last 18 to 36 months when unopened.
- Oloroso or Cream sherries will last 24 to 36 months when unopened.
- And, for the longest-lasting wine when remaining bottled: Pedro Ximenez will last 24 to 48 months when unopened.
Shelf Life Of Opened Sherry
If you have already cracked open your bottle of sherry, it will have a relatively limited shelf life. Listed below are estimates of how long the bottle will still be good when opened, depending on the type of sherry.
- Fino or Manzanilla sherry will last around a week when opened.
- Amontillado or Medium Sweet varieties of sherry will last 2 to 3 weeks once opened.
- Oloroso or Cream sherries will last 4 to 6 weeks when opened.
- Similar to an unopened bottle of Pedro Ximenez, this type of sherry will last the longest when opened as well. An opened bottle will last 4 to 6 weeks when opened.
The shelf lives listed above are approximations. Opened wine will not last very long, so you should ensure there are no signs of it having gone flat before indulging.
Is This Sherry Past Its Prime?
Even though sherry does have a higher alcohol content, it will still go bad, just like other wines. As soon as a bottle of sherry has been cracked open, the wine’s chemical composition will begin to change.
When exposed to air, sherry will oxidize. The longer a sherry has oxidized, the more flavor it will have lost, causing the wine to go flat.
Consuming sherry that has oxidized is perfectly safe, but may not be as enjoyable. The simplest way to determine if a bottle of sherry has gone bad is to take a small sip. If it has lost its flavor and richness, you might not be as keen on using it.
If you do have a bottle of sherry that has gone past its prime, it is still perfectly fine to use in cooking or for salad dressings or marinades.
Proper Storage Of Sherry
Sherry should be stored in the same manner you would store most wines. Unopened bottles of sherry should be kept in a cool, dry location. The bottle should not come in contact with sunlight or other sources of heat. This makes a wine cellar or pantry ideal for storage.
Once the bottle has been opened, it should be sealed as best as possible, using either a cork or a wine bottle stopper. Refrigerating the bottle will help it last longer once opened, and most sherries are better served cold anyway.
Tasty Tip: When storing a bottle of sherry, it should be kept upright. This will ensure the sherry will not oxidize as quickly, lengthening its shelf life and preserving its quality. Oxidation affects the flavor of alcohol and will lessen the quality of your sherry.
- Sherry is a flavorful, complex wine, but will go flat over time.
- Unopened sherry should be stored in a wine cellar or pantry, out of direct light.
- An opened bottle of sherry should be closed tightly and refrigerated.
- An unopened bottle of sherry can last a year to multiple years, depending on the type.
- An opened bottle of sherry will last a week to a few weeks, depending on the type of sherry.
- Even if a bottle of sherry has passed its prime, it will still be safe to consume. It will just have lost its flavor and quality.
Versatile as a culinary wine and a delicious beverage, sherry makes for a great addition to your kitchen. So, crack open a bottle and enjoy it with your dinner, knowing it will still be good for several days.