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what is sherry?

Posted by brownthumbia (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 25, 12 at 12:52

Oh, dear, after 60 some years of cooking I have to admit I don't know everything!!! lol I have a recipe that calls for sherry and I have never, in all those years, cooked with sherry. so I'm asking, is that something that is alcoholic or what? If so, can I substitute wine for sherry? It's not something I would use much of so if I could use something else in it's place it would be nice. I'm making beef jerky and the recipe calls for only 1/4 cup, not much so I wonder if I can use wine instead. Thanks everyone for your help. BT


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: what is sherry?

Sherry is a fortified dessert wine. It has a nutty, mellow flavor and is made from white grapes. The two predominant types of Sherry are Fino (very dry with a lighter-body) and Oloroso (still dry, but much richer in both flavor and body).

The most common type found is the brand Harvey's, with its famous Bristol Cream Sherry. Cream Sherry is an Oloroso sweetened with Pedro Ximenez grapes. The color is dark or very dark mahogany. I prefer to use the Hartley & Gibson Amontillado, a medium dry Oloroso. I think it has a much better flavor but it's more expensive.

You can certainly substitute wine or vermouth, perhaps adding a single drop of almond extract.


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RE: what is sherry?

Sherry is a fortified wine, much used in cooking. It gives a distinctive flavor that can't be approximated by anything but perhaps marsala.....another fortified wine.
It keeps a long time, I always have some in my pantry.....but for jerky you probably could use almost any kind of wine.
Linda C


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RE: what is sherry?

Sherry is a fortified wine; during the fermentation, some brandy is introduced into the vat to raise the alcohol content and kill the yeast, stopping the fermentation. It gets its name from Jerez, Spain. Jerez got corrupted into 'sherry' in English. Most table wines have 9-12% alcohol; sherries tend to be more in the 15-20% range.

Depending on when during the fermentation the brandy is introduced, you can have sherries with a lot of residual sugar for dessert (such as a Pedro Ximinez or Cream sherry) all the way to bone-dry fino sherries.

If it's only calling for 1/4 cup, I'd feel free to substitute whatever drinkable wine you like, or omit it altogether.

Whatever you do, don't use cooking sherry. That disgusting stuff is lousy wine to which they add enough salt to make it undrinkable (thereby avoiding taxes on alcoholic beverages).


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RE: what is sherry?

Sherry has a distinctive nutty flavor not really replicated in other ways and I find a little in a recipe is all that is needed for that flavor to do its magic. I like sherry and I like sherry in cooking. I use a semi dry to dry sherry for general cooking. If you aren't familiar with the taste and don't want to get too experimental, use some dry wine.


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RE: what is sherry?

I am loving this message thread! I went to the State store before Christmas to buy some wine and spirits to take to my sons where we were having dinner. Here in Penna we have to buy stuff at State stores.. So I asked an employee what type of Sherry was the kind people in those British Historical novels are always serving in the Library! Well the employee knew nothing about Sherry other than that there were many different kinds and pointed to some other type of Alcohol called Pimms and told me it was all the rage in London to drink Pimms in lemonade. I was left kind of scratching my head and never bought any kind of sherry or the Pimm's for that matter! I am assuming from the messages here that Bristol Cream Sherry would be close to what was being served in those old novels...I wonder if this is covered in Downton Abbey?
Joann


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RE: what is sherry?

It depends. Bristol Cream is delicious, but it's sweet. If you like sweet wines, give it a try. Pimm's isn't a sherrry, it's a gin-based mix, about 25% alcohol, that makes a refreshing drink when mixed with lemon soda or lemonade.

If you're more in to dry stuff, try a fino sherry. The page at the link has a good summary of the different types of sherry.

Of course, if you want get all literary about it, you can try Amontillado. You remember the Poe story:

"The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled�but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk."

Here is a link that might be useful: sherry 101


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RE: what is sherry?

I use a lot of sherry in quite a few recipes that I make a lot of....like a chicken vegetable soup that calls for a cup, an onion soup calls for half a cup or so, and I often slosh some into a pan where chicken breasts were sauteed to deglaze......so I don't pop for Harvey's or Dry Sack another fairly expensive sherry for these applications. You can get that distinctive flavor is a very inexpensive bottle. And after all when you slosh it into a pan where the onions have caramelized and the chicken browned,and reduce it a bit.....who can tell?
But for sipping in the library after dinner, go for the good stuff!


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RE: what is sherry?

Ahh yes who can forget The Cask of Amontillado!!! This is just a fun thread!!!! I don't think at the time I even knew Amontilldo was Sherry!!!
Joann


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RE: what is sherry?

Joann, try Dry Sack sherry. It's the medium-dry /oloroso type. It's available here in PA. I find it helps a lot to go to one of the "luxury" state stores with a "wine expert." I think every PA county has one, but I'm not sure. Ours is actually pretty good. He's told me about some great finds. Often the state stops carrying them then, of course...


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RE: what is sherry?

Thank you so much!!! Now I know what kind to buy!!!
Joann


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RE: what is sherry?

The only call for sherry around here is at Christmas for moms trifle being she's English and all. No need to buy the pricey Harveys for cooking etc..just get a very small bottle of some other less expensive brand. I bought a small bottle of local Ontario sherry for around $6. Maybe 10 ounces.. about half went into the trifle and half into glasses while we assembled it.


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RE: what is sherry?

Just to put the record straight. Sherry, in England, is drunk as a pre-dinner drink so the peeps at Downton Abbey are having their sherry before dinner. We don't drink it as a dessert wine. As we only drink port with the cheese / cigars whereas the french drink it as an aperitif. Sherry oacks a punch and is delicious. Think sherry and tapas. YUM


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RE: what is sherry?

I often use sherry for cooking. Here's a favorite easy recipe that includes sherry.

SHERRIED CHICKEN - serves 4 or more

2 frying chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), halved
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, minced
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the butter on the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken in one layer in a roasting pan. Add the onion, cover, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

Combine the sherry and honey in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour the sauce over the chicken and bake for 15 minutes more, uncovered, or until the chicken is tender. Serve with pan juices.


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RE: what is sherry?

I went to a liquor store recently to get a bottle of sherry for a recipe. The owner, a woman who cooks a lot, said to get a medium sherry for cooking, don't use one of the cream sherries such as Harvey's Bristol Cream. I am very satisfied with the one I got, which is Osborne Amontillado Medium Sherry, made in Spain. There are lots of brands. It's a nice one to drink, too. Sherry doesn't come in small bottles, so you might as well get one that is enjoyable to sip, too.


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RE: what is sherry?

Oh for goodness sake!!! thank everyone of you for the helpful advice. I found out more about sherry than I even imagined I would. I can see I would have a bunch to pick from. We don't have much of a liquor store in our little town...just a small room in the grocery store and they don't handle a lot of different specialties. I think I'm going to take jkon's advice and use the wine I have at home and add the almond extract. Next time I get to the city I will buy some real sherry. Thank you so much, everyone. I knew I would get some excellent advice if I came to this site. You didn't let me down. BT


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RE: what is sherry?

Brownthumbia, my eyes lit up when I saw your thread, because sherry is one of those ingredients I see in recipes, and have bought before for cooking, but didn't really know what I was doing when I went to buy it. Thanks for asking this question. And thanks for the great lesson in sherry, everyone.

I guess it's brandy the English sip in the Library after dinner. Boy, with sherry before dinner, wine with dinner, and brandy afterwards, how do they get up in the morning? lol

Sally


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RE: what is sherry?

In the days before central heating, hot or intoxicating beverages were virtually a must-have.

Madeira and Malaga were also extremely popular during the Georgian and Regency periods in England. Port fell out of fashion during the Regency almost solely due to "Beau" Brummell, who loathed it, considering it suitable only for the lower classes.

Brandy had the allure of the forbidden during the Napoleonic Wars, as the taxes were ruinous but only led to encouraging smugglers all along the southern coast.

Scottish ouiskie, or whiskey as we now call it, began to creep into the social scene during the Victorian era, helped along by that essential invention, the soda-siphon.


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RE: what is sherry?

sally, lol. I thought I heard that the Brits didn't get up before noon!?? Please, hope you all know, I'm just kidding.


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RE: what is sherry?

Madiera, Malaga, Port and Sherry are all similar: they're fortified wines. The increased alcohol content is not only useful as a warming agent, but it also helps in the keeping qualities of the beverage. You can put some in a decanter and it'll stay good for a while at room temperature, whereas once you open a bottle of table wine it'll go bad pretty quickly.

All of them are made in a range from bone-dry to sickeningly sweet. Chacun a son gout.


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RE: what is sherry?

jkom51, port never went out of fashion in England and whiskey with an e is Irish, not scottish.
Come to think about it, Brownthumbia, I don't recall my mother ever ready to do anything before noon! hahaha. She didn't really care for mornings! (but she wasn't a drinker)


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RE: what is sherry?

I think "whiskey" with an e is American. Irish whisky is spelled without an e. (And unlike bourbon it is sort of drinkable....)


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RE: what is sherry?

Woops! I looked it up... Islay Corbel is right and I am wrong. Irish spelling is like American. You can tell I'm not a whiskey drinker.


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RE: what is sherry?

I'm learning all kinds of things. That's interesting about ouiskie, Whiskey, Whisky. I've never seen it spelled any way other than whiskey, but I don't drink the stuff, so what do I know. I love learning how words have evolved, though.

Sally


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RE: what is sherry?

In the days before central heating, hot or intoxicating beverages were virtually a must-have.

I imagine warm beverages might warm you up a bit, but alcohol actually lowers your body temperature. You many feel a little warmer briefly esp if you're prone to having your skin flush when drinking, but that's just heat leaving your body. Cold weather is just an excuse to drink. As is hot weather. Likewise a beautiful sunny day or a dreary rainy day...


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RE: what is sherry?

Alcohol was also a lot safer to drink than the water. Cholera was a major killer in all countries until municipal water treatment plants were built.

People drank alcohol morning, noon, and night. Probably they didn't feel the cold as much because they were in a 'pickled' state continuously.

Port was once drunk all through meals; it was Brummell who pushed it aside into the 'after dinner' class. The taste and 'style' of wines has changed dramatically through the centuries. It's an interesting subject for research.

Try looking up the history of chocolate sometime. If you ever tried the famed 'morning chocolate' of upper class Regency, you'd spit it out immediately. It had almost no milk and very little sugar.

Bourbon is very drinkable. Try a Pappy Van Winkle 20-yr old bourbon sometime. Amazing stuff.


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RE: what is sherry?

Sally, if you wish to really be accurate with your etymology, both 'whisky' and 'whiskey' derive from the Gaelic 'usquebaugh' which means 'water of life'. (Compare with the French 'eau de vie'--same meaning.)

Another Gaelic word for hooch is 'poteen', variously spelled 'pocheen' or 'poitin' or 'potheen', from which we get the word 'potion'. Although The Clovers singing 'Love Poitin Number Nine' doesn't have quite the same sound.


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RE: what is sherry?

Interesting.

And yes, I'm old enough to remember that song!

Sally


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RE: what is sherry?

You will find references to "sack" in Shakespeare's writings, primarily drunk by Sir John Falstaff.

Sack was the term used for a group of fortified wines from Spain and the Canary Islands. As mentioned above, the ones imported into England from Jerez were known as Sherris sack and by the 17th century, simply as sherry.


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RE: what is sherry?

Hence "Dry Sack" a brand of dry sherry (they also make an aged sweet-ish olorosso) which is marketed and sold in...wait for it....a dry sack!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Wine in a sack...


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RE: what is sherry?

"Dry Sack" is not a dry sack (sherry)! It's an oloroso type, only medium-dry.


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RE: what is sherry?

Williams and Hubert makes more than one kind of Sherry. A medium dry and a well aged Oloroso, as well as a Dry Sack....sold in a sack.
If you have ever had a few sips of the stuff in the bottle in the sack, I think you will agree that it's drier than any "cream" sherry.

Here is a link that might be useful: sherry


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