Sherry: New regulations to revolutionise category


As well as the regulation changes happening in sherry, the category is enjoying a new lease of life among younger drinkers in export markets – particularly the UK. “Lockdown saw a huge growth for sherry after a few years of steady decline, with people choosing sherry as their drink of choice at home,” says Yates. “Anecdotally we think that, as lockdowns continued here in the UK, more consumers were trying new styles of drinks and created cocktails at home. Sherry cocktails are becoming more and more popular and so this perhaps was a gateway to the sherry sector for many new to sherry and possibly younger consumers with sherry like Tío Pepe, as this fits in with the trend for dry-style drinks such as Negronis and vermouths.” 

She hopes that this, bolstered by the inevitable effects of the new regulations, will create a welcome noise around the category. 

Hildago agrees that sherry’s future will be determined by the capturing of new consumers as well as an adoption by the on-trade of sherry cocktails that come in at a lower abv than some of their spirits category counterparts: “One of the most important things for the sherry industry is to be appealing to younger consumers. We need a generational change and we believe that in the past two years this change has sped up significantly.” 

He also notes that the sale of oxidised sherries – such as amontillado – are beginning to see more interest in the likes of California, while a greater job around education of sherry as not just a sweet wine is something that needs to happen more in order to make the category more appealing to people as a drink to have alongside food. 

Through the Consejo Regulador, Saldaña and his team have also been working on a campaign to try to keep all these new consumers engaged with sherry. They have also been working on approaching sherry as a category more aligned with how they approach wine, establishing it as a drink to be enjoyed with food as consumers do in Spain – something that will be made more seamless when more emphasis is given to varieties, vineyards and regions. “This will open doors.”