Does Sherry Go Bad? How Long Can It Last?

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Have you always thought of Sherry as the ultimate grandparent’s drink? Us too!

But that all changed when we discovered the dry Sherry styles—Fino and Manzanilla.

If you’re like us, who have just recently unraveled the delicious and younger side of Sherry wine, and you want to know if you can still drink that bottle your friend gifted you years ago, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve also once asked this question: Does Sherry go bad?

And luckily, we found the answer: Sherry does go bad.

With that said, how long can Sherry last? Unfortunately, with all the different types of sherry available, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. Read this article if you want to know more about sherry shelf life!

When you do, you’ll also discover the answer to following questions:

Ready? Let’s get down to business!

What is Sherry?

It is a fortified wine that originated in Spain. Sherry wines are produced by crushing, fermenting, and maturing different types of grapes, including but not limited to Palomino, Pedro Ximenes, and Moscatel. (*)

After fermentation, the white wine is produced and is then fortified. This means that other types of alcohol are added to increase its alcohol content and make the wine more stable.

Due to the fortification process, Sherry is considered a highly alcoholic wine with ABV ranging from 15% to 22%.

The wine is aged and blended through the Solera method, producing wine containing various ages, giving the wine a unique taste and more complex flavor.

How Does Sherry Taste Like?

Most Sherry wines are characterized by nutty, fruity, and saline flavors. However, Sherry wines come in different styles (which include dry and sweet varieties), which affects their taste.

What are the Different Types of Sherry Wines?

With that said, here are the different types of Sherry wines, along with their alcohol content and flavor profile:

Type of Sherry WineFlavor ProfileAlcohol Content
FinoFresh and crisp with almond notes15 to 16%
ManzanillaLighter flavor with floral notes and bitter finish15 to 16%
AmontilladoGentle crisp with notes of hazelnut, spice, and wood17 to 20%
OlorosoWalnut aroma with swirled caramel flavor18 to 20%
Palo CortadoHoneyed, gingery, and nutty palate with hints of caramel and orange and a toffee finish18 to 22%
Cream SherryLight and fresh with a delicate sweetness and bitter aftertaste15 to 22%
Pedro XimenezSweet with a smoky peat flavor15 to 22%
  • Fact: Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Palo Cortado, and Oloroso are all dry sherry wines, while Cream Sherry and Pedro Ximenez and sweet wines.

Does Sherry Go Off?

Like most wines, Sherry can get spoiled and lose its flavors over time. However, the process isn’t as straightforward as you think.

Here’s what we want you to understand:

Thanks to its high alcohol content, Sherry won’t get spoiled to the point that it will be bad for your health. However, it will lose the flavors you enjoy when kept for way too long. That’s why you must learn how long does sherry last.

How To Know When Sherry Has Gone Bad

When improperly stored, Sherry can get spoiled (rancid or moldy). Because of this, you need to examine the wine first before consuming it, too watch out for the following spoiled Sherry signs:

1. Sour Smell

A vinegar-like smell is one of the most common signs of spoilage. You can easily have a whiff of the sour smell once you open the bottle.

2. Black specks on wine

Black specks on your wine indicate that there’s a problem with your cork integrity. When left for too long, cork tends to dry and crumble, and some parts of it will fall into the wine. This may promote mold growth and give off a musky scent.

The condition is called cork taint, and it can happen to 5% of wines.

  • Pro Tip: There’s a way to “fix” this problem. All you need to do is line plastic wrap on a large bowl, then pour the wine over the plastic. Next, stir it up a bit and let it sit for 45 minutes.

After that, the wine is safe for consumption again since the compounds that cause the flavor and smell change will get left behind on the plastic wrap.

3. Sediments

Sediments at the bottom portion of the bottle indicate oxidation. This means that the wine has already spoiled.

4. Taste

If the wine already tastes vinegary, flat, or flavorless, throw it away immediately.

How Long Does Sherry Last?

Determining the shelf life of a Sherry wine isn’t an exact science. Plus, there are a lot of factors that we need to consider—the type of Sherry wine, condition (opened or unopened), and storage conditions.

With that said, here are a few guidelines for how long you can enjoy your bottle of Sherry:

Shelf Life of Unopened Sherry

With regards to an unopened bottle of Sherry, it’s recommended that you check out its best by date. The printed date will tell you when to enjoy the wine at its peak quality. The good news is you can still enjoy unopened bottles e a few months past the said date.

With that in mind, here are some of the shelf guidelines for the different types of Sherry wine:

Type of Sherry WineShelf Life
Fino and Manzanilla12 to 18 months
Cooking Sherry12 months
Amontillado and other Medium Sweet varieties18 to 36 months
Oloroso and Cream Sherry24 to 36 months
Pedro Ximenez24 to 48 months

Shelf Life of Opened Sherry

If you’ve already opened the bottle of sherry, its shelf life will be shortened significantly. Below is an estimate of the shelf life of an opened bottle of Sherry:

Type of Sherry WineShelf Life
Fino and Manzanilla1 week
Cooking Sherry1 month
Amontillado and other Medium Sweet varieties2 to 3 weeks
Oloroso and Cream Sherry4 to 6 weeks
Pedro Ximenez4 to 6 weeks

How to Store Sherry

Wines like Sherry must be stored in a dry, cool, and dark place as a rule of thumb. That’s why the best storage places for wines are the wine cellar, kitchen pantry, or cabinet that are located far from heat sources like the oven and stove.

But wait, there’s more. Here are other food storage tips on how to store Sherry properly:

1. Keep the bottle sealed as tightly as possible.

Oxidation is the number one enemy of wine. To prevent oxidation, air exposure must be minimized as much as possible, and you can do this by keeping your bottle of wine tightly sealed.

  • Pro Tip: If the cork no longer fits the bottle, your next best option is to use a wine bottle stopper.

2. Transfer leftover Sherry in a small bottle.

If the bottle is already half full, we recommend pouring the leftover Sherry into a smaller bottle to reduce the empty space inside the bottle. This can help in reducing the rate of oxidization.

3. Minimize space inside the bottle.

The more space inside the bottle, the more air can enter. If your wine bottle is already half full, we suggest transferring it into a smaller bottle to reduce air and minimize the chances of oxidation.

4. Make sure the bottle stands upright.

Storing your bottle upright is recommended to reduce the wine’s exposed area and ensure that it will get oxidized as slowly as possible.

5. Refrigerate the opened bottle of Sherry.

If you can’t finish the bottle in one sitting, make sure to refrigerate Sherry so it can last for a more few weeks.

Interesting Sherry Facts You Need to Know

Did you think you know everything about Sherry wine? We have more facts to share with you. Here they are:

Can you freeze Sherry?

Yes, you can freeze Sherry, but please take note that doing so many things that you need to consider.

For one, it has a low freezing temperature, so you need to set your freezer to 0 degrees Celsius. Additionally, freezing may change the wine’s flavor.

Pro Tip: Freezing sherry wines are not recommended because of these issues. However, this trick helps prolong the shelf life of cooking sherry.

How to freeze Sherry

To freeze cooking Sherry, using an ice cube tray is the trick. Pour cooking wine into the ice cube tray and place it in the freezer overnight. Once it’s already frozen solid, transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag or airtight container.

How to thaw Sherry

You can place the Sherry cubes in the refrigerator overnight or just toss them into the dish that you’re cooking.

Cooking sherry and drinking sherry have slight differences.

The only difference between the two is cooking sherry contains potassium metabisulfite, salt, and potassium sorbate.

These are added to extend the wine’s shelf life and preserve its taste. But due to the added ingredients, cooking sherry doesn’t taste as good as drinking Sherry.

Sherry can be used in making savory dishes and baked goodies.

Cooking Sherry offers many functions, including deglazing a pan, brightening stews and soups, braising meats, flavoring cheese sauces, and making salad dressings.

Wrapping It Up

Sherry is a flavorful, versatile, and highly alcoholic beverage that can last for a long. However, it can go flat over time, so you should consume it before its expected shelf life (which may vary depending on the type of Sherry) you have.

Bad news: Even if it has a high ABV, it will get spoiled when not stored properly.

That’s why it’s essential to ensure that you’ll follow all the tips we’ve shared with you in this article.

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Up Next: Your Common Food Ingredient’s Shelf Life – A Comprehensive Guide By Groups

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