Are you in a dilemma on what to serve as substitutes for dry sherry? Then you’ve come to the right place.
You’ve no need to worry.
Here we explore five of the best possible alternatives for dry sherry.
Let’s discover which one will be the perfect fit for your cuisine.
What is Dry Sherry?
Dry sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes grown near the Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera.
Sherry has a nutty, sweet flavor, and it is typically enjoyed as an aperitif or used in cooking.
It makes an excellent addition to soups, sauces, and stews.
For best results when cooking with sherry, use the dry variety over sweet or cream sherries.
When searching for dry sherry in stores, you’ll want to look for versions labeled “Manzanilla” or “Fino” on bottles; these are both considered types of dry sherry.
Dry sherry should be stored away from direct sunlight and kept in cool conditions at all times.
Using dry sherry is fairly straightforward: it can be added to dishes as-is with no alteration necessary.
It’s best to use the amount described in recipes when using dry sherry as a cooking ingredient— too much will throw off the balance of flavors within your dish.
If you find that the finished dish needs more nuance or complexity in its taste profile, adding a bit of fresh lemon juice can help supplement these flavors without ruining your dish.
5 Best Dry Sherry Substitutes to Consider
When a recipe calls for dry sherry, you may be wondering what to do if this isn’t a type of alcohol available in your area.
The good news is, there are some very good substitutes for dry sherry that can be used in cooking.
Before we discuss those, let’s briefly talk about what dry sherry is.
Now that you understand a bit more about what dry sherry is, here are some great alternatives if you find yourself unable to get your hands on it:
1 – Dry White Wine
Dry white wine is one of the best substitutes for dry sherry since it offers a similar flavor profile and has an ABV considerably higher than beer and most other wines.
Made from white grapes, it is typically light-bodied with crisp acidity and subtle flavors of citrus, apples, pears or stone fruit.
It pairs well with poultry, fish and some creamy cheese dishes as well as lighter desserts like meringues or custards.
Dry white wines vary greatly between winemakers and can range from crisp to full bodied depending on the type of grape and production method used.
Popular options include Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio or Vermentino.
2 – Dry Vermouth
Dry vermouth is an aperitif wine made with herbs, spices and fortified with brandy for additional flavor and longevity.
It is also milder than dry sherry and can be used as a more subtle substitute in cooking.
It’s less sweet than sweet vermouth but still has a delicate sweetness and nuttiness to it.
Dry vermouth can be used in place of dry sherry to provide variety in the flavors of a recipe, but it does not hold the same level of sweetness, so use more if the accustomed taste is preferred.
With that said, its distinct flavor comes from herbs like thyme, rosemary and chamomile, as well as others such as lavender or liquorice root.
All these combine with white wine grapes to make up the base of this Italian classic aperitif.
3 – Madeira Wine
Madeira wine is a Portuguese fortified wine and an excellent substitute for dry sherry.
It’s made from a blend of several grape varieties and is aged in oak casks which gives it a rather acidic but sweet taste with notes of honey, nuts, and caramel.
It’s usually full-bodied with a moderate tannin structure that adds complexity to the overall flavor.
Madeira wines can come in various styles such as medium dry or very sweet, so you should make sure to choose the right one for your recipe.
Furthermore, since it is already fortified with brandy, you can use it as a substitution without having to add additional alcohol or sugar to the dish.
4 – Sherry Vinegar
Sherry vinegar, like all wine vinegars, is produced from the alcoholic beverage from which it takes its name.
It is aged in oak barrels and enriched with many of the same flavor compounds as dry sherry such as volatile acids, esters and phenols.
Sherry vinegar adds depth to a variety of recipes and is especially favored for use in Mediterranean cuisine.
The best sherry vinegars are aged for at least six months in oak barrels as part of an aging process that can last up to two years.
This aging process helps to mellow the harshness of the acidity and results in a well-rounded balance between acidity and sweetness that lends itself perfectly to both sweet and savory dishes.
The flavor of Sherry vinegar is sometimes described as being raisiny or nutty with a hint of sweetness.
5 – White Wine Vinegar
White wine vinegar can be an adequate substitute for dry sherry in certain recipes.
Its main advantages are its availability and its moderate cost, making it an easy substitution for anyone who may want to avoid alcohol or just looks to find a flavorful substitution.
White wine vinegar contains acetic acid, which gives it a tart taste.
To reduce the acidity and make it more palatable without needing to add too many other flavours or ingredients, mix the white wine vinegar with stock of your choice or some water.
You can also add honey if you want a sweeter flavour as most white wine vinegars have a relatively sharp taste.
In conclusion, it’s important to know the unique flavor of dry sherry and its beneficial cooking application when considering substitutions.
While there are some over-the-counter substitutions like cream sherry, sweet vermouth, port wine, and even brandy and white wine, none can completely mimic its taste or texture.
In other words, subbing in these alternatives might give you a similar outcome in terms of texture and flavor profile but you won’t quite get that mirror image of dry sherry as a result.
The best thing to do would be to use any one of the five listed substitutes listed above depending on what your needs are regarding the particular dish you are making.
All five should provide something that is least relatively close to what dry sherry can produce while fitting your budget and ingredient availability.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!