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Sherry: The Fino Things
Published:  02 January, 2014

Rebuelta says he has noticed the trend towards sherry in cocktails particularly in New York – an observation echoed by Osborne, who says “it’s insightful to see what mixologists are doing with sherry”. For some of that insight, see How to Mix with Sherry (box, previous page). 

In Spain, it is a type of cocktail, albeit a basic one, that has driven sherry sales, particularly of manzanilla and fino, over the past few years. Osborne reports that the Rebujito serve is made with one part manzanilla and three parts 7 Up/Sprite, with some mint leaves. “It’s pushed by the manzanilla producers at the flamenco fairs, where consumption is huge. Manzanilla producers were the first but it’s an opportunity for fino too.” 

Price

“Sherry is a cheap category,” says Rebuelta. “Our wines are undervalued and we have to bring the price up. You have to take the strategy that you can go up little by little and take a long-term view. But price is not the only problem – it is working on the image too. For that you have to work with the trade.” 

And that’s exactly what González Byass has been doing, not least through its Tio Pepe Sherrymaster events, which have been attended by international wine writers. This year’s three-day course in Jerez saw tastings of some of the world’s oldest and rarest sherry and exhaustive seminars on production styles and techniques. 

For Domecq, it is a similar tale. “The price of sherry has not moved for 20 years,” he says. “How do I tell sherry’s story when consumers go into the supermarket and see the price – they will think I’m lying.” 

Indeed, sherry above all categories should understand about consumer perception. Sales may still be waning, but if the latest figures offer a glimpse into the future it is that the category is stabilising and showing shoots of recovery. 

In sherry, the drinks industry has a unique product, with heritage, provenance and craftsmanship all wrapped up in a bottle that is sold for as little as Ä5. It seems counter-instinctive to make the argument for a category in historical decline, but producers may actually gain customers in the long term by raising their prices.