From Jerez to Caerdydd: Is sherry making a comeback for a new generation?

Cardiff Sherry Week returned for a 10th year and the fortified wine is hoping to go from strength to strength

Felix Ray is duty manager at Vermut which recently hosted their second Cardiff Sherry Week

People in Cardiff are increasingly turning to sherry as their drink of choice, following the return of an international drink festival to the city.

Vermut is a Spanish vermouth bar which recently took part in its second Cardiff Sherry Week alongside other a dozen venues, as the city welcomed the return of the international festival that has been celebrating the revival of the drink since 2014.

“I’d say it was really positive,” said Felix Ray, who runs Vermut. “Surprisingly, this year we had a lot of people coming back here even when they missed the sherry deals last week, but they still wanted to get involved. That’s why we’re still carrying on with the sherry flights!”

Sherry is a fortified wine produced exclusively near the city of Jerez in Andalusia, Spain and one of the most popular sellers of the week was a ‘flight’ – three tasting glasses of fino, oloroso, and medium, which are the most well-known styles.

A sherry flight with medium (left), oloroso (centre), and fino (right) is a popular way to get started with sherry

Sherry has had a long history in the UK as the choice for grandparents everywhere, but young professionals are starting to reclaim the drink and are looking past beer and wine, according to Felix.

The drink may have the right mix of qualities to attract a new generation to this old Spanish speciality. A good bottle of fino sherry will only set you back around ten pounds and above all else it is a drink that encourages pairing with good food and good company.

“There are so many aspects that go towards making somebody comfortable,” said Felix. “Doing traditional Spanish style food is really one of those things that emphasises the style of drinking – you’re meant to be chatting with your friends, snacking, and drinking at the same time.”

Cardiff Sherry Week showed that drinkers don’t just want an occasional change, but a new environment to experience a new drink

People in Cardiff are keener to move away from their local pub and pint and try something new, according to Felix. Sherry’s popularity in the UK has been rising for some time, with a spike in 2019 when online searches for ‘cream sherry’ soared by 850%, according to a report by The Guardian.

In the same report, Simon Cairns, head of drinks at the Co-op, said “The introduction of more stylish varieties, such as the luxurious Pedro Ximénez, has caught the eye of the younger generation who are turning to this as they experiment more at home to recreate their favourite drinks.”

Sherry Week is a global event that takes place in September every year. Over 18,000 events over by over 40 different countries which aims to promote the revival of the drink for both fans and newcomers.

Cardiff’s drinkers are continuing from last year to warm to one of the world’s oldest drinks across a dozen bars and restaurants in the city, as many venues showed off sherry as a standalone drink and also how well it works in cocktails and cooking.

The week-long event is important to keep the momentum going for sherry to reinvent itself as a classy drink for a young, professional generation, but Cardiff may be on its way to becoming a sherry-loving capital.

The future is bright as long as Sherry Week continues “hammering away” at the drink’s old stereotype, so says Felix.