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Headline hero: Heroic Jerez

Published:  08 November, 2021

In Association With Gonzalez Byass

Sherry is storming ahead of most wines in embracing innovation and it’s paying dividends in engagement and sales. Andrew Catchpole samples this far-from-traditional approach by the region. 

Sherry has been one of the winners of the wine world during the pandemic, pulling in new punters in the widely touted era of ‘newly adventurous’ drinkers. For its producers and champions, this marks a much sought-after upturn in Sherry’s fortunes, with drinking occasions spreading out beyond the ‘usual suspects’ of a handful of committed ‘Jerez-o-phile’ UK restaurants and bars. And what has really helped crank up this momentum is the innovation and imagination with which the wines are being presented and sold.

In order to nurture new Sherry aficionados, big players at the quality end, such as Gonzalez Byass (see right), have fired up positive perception of the category by encouraging wine drinkers to approach the wines in different ways. Meanwhile, Sherry vendors (both independent on- and off-trade) have recruited adventurous palates through a mix of Sherry cocktails and Sherry tasting kits, nudging people towards new Sherry-drinking occasions and flagging its diverse adaptability with food.

Backed by encouragement to share on social media, drinkers themselves have been spreading the message, alongside influencers caught up in the excitement. Eye-catching posts on Instagram and elsewhere have ranged from thirst-stimulating pics of bartender-delivered PX Espresso Martinis and ‘Spanish’ Negronis, via do-it-yourself home-tasting kits (often with virtual-bartender tutelage), to shots of Sherries paired with the dish of the moment.

For the BBQ, beach or festival bound, Sherry has also grasped the opportunity to release smart canned concoctions, with Gonzales’s Fino spritz, Croft Twist, leading the way.

And, with Sherry week just around the corner (running 8 to 14 November), packing in a host of exciting activities designed to pique the interest of both consumer and trade, this momentum looks set to continue.

All in all, it’s an encouraging picture, plus a fantastic testimony to what can be achieved when a venerable wine region embraces innovation, generating that frisson of excitement that comes from blurring the boundaries between tradition and modernity.


We spoke to Sherry champions to discover how they’ve been spreading the word about the gems of Jerez.


“The Sherry revival in the UK really began in 2010. This was down to a few factors, but in particular the boundless enthusiasm, knowledge and passion for sherries of Martin Skelton [who until recently headed up González Byass UK before handing the mantle to new managing director and Sherry fan, Melissa Draycott].

“We’re also huge Sherry fans, and while it wasn’t regarded as the ‘coolest’ drink category at the time, what we did know was this: it was brilliantly unique, had world-class quality, was available in a diverse range of styles, is hands down the best food-matching style of wine there is, and extraordinary value for money to boot.

“Bar Pepito has been picking up steadily, and people are going for flights and tasting menus. It’s such a great food-matching wine, and we match every dish on the Pepito menu with a specific Sherry or Sherry style.

“Increasingly, master mixologists have embraced Sherry as a key and deliciously high-quality ingredient in their cocktails. There’s so much scope, with such an array of varieties, the category has provided so much fun to play around with – a real find for bartenders.”


“Our on-demand González Byass Sherry-tasting kit has been extremely popular – with a high-quality experience, I believe we’ve made Sherry tasting accessible to all. We have put a huge emphasis on food pairing, where Sherry really shines.

“I believe that the high-quality element is key. Producing a product that is in-depth and educational, but also fun and light, was our goal. We are huge Sherry lovers, and don’t just want to preach to the converted. We want to convert! The success of our kits have been almost entirely word of mouth.

“I’ve been in the wine trade for almost 17 years and can see a real difference in the Sherry customer today. The younger generation seem very interested and more open-minded. They are keen to explore, and if you can get a small Sherry-shaped hook into them, what an incredible category they have to dive into.

“The use of Sherry in cocktails certainly opens eyes. Top mixologists are creating incredibly complex drinks. I think the innovation simply needs to be in getting the wine in the glass of drinkers, let the liquid speak for itself.”