Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
Sep 6, 2007 02:17 PM

Dry Sack Sherry - Opinions [Moved from Spirits board]

This seems to be the only Name protected Jerez sherry at the local safeway...any opinions?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I had the opportunity to travel around Jerez a couple of years ago and went to many of the Sherry Bodegas. Dry Sack, in my opinion, is not very good stuff.

    I'm sure the folks at the Liquor Barn (do they still exist out in CA) can get ahold of brands like Hidalgo, Gonzales Byass, Montilla, Domecq, or Lustau; all brands that are fairly easy to get in the US.

    What kind of sherry are you interested in? They run the gamut from bone dry to syrupy sweet and anywhere in between.

    I like Finos, Manzanillas and Amontillados.

    16 Replies
    1. re: bkhuna

      Thank you for the recomendations thus far bkhuna. I am looking more toward the drier end.

      1. re: kare_raisu

        Sounds like you are looking for a Fino Sherry. Tio Pepe is the only one I have had, and it was excellant.

        1. re: davebough

          Tio Pepe is a good fino made by Bodega Gonzalez Byass. The attached photo is from the bodega in Jerez. Tio Pepe is very popular but it's kind of like the Budweiser of Spain. Good and dependabel but nothing to really get all excited about.

          Ask your local liquor store if they can order you some Domeca La Ina or Lustaue Fino.

          Sherry's gotten a pretty bad rep in the country because for years, nobody imported the good stuff and all you saw were Creme style sherries. Once you've discovered the joys of the good stuff, you'll find more and more reasons to drink it.

          Now, let's talk about Spanish jamon!

          1. re: bkhuna

            "Good and dependabel but nothing to really get all excited about."

            Yeah, you don't want to get excited because you have found a product that you can count on to be good. Tio Pepe actually has a very good reputation among professional critics.

            "Sherry's gotten a pretty bad rep in the country because for years, nobody imported the good stuff and all you saw were Creme style sherries"

            What country are you talking about? Surely not the U.S.. What years do you mean finos, manzanillas,amontillados and olorosos were not available? Certainly fino andoloroso sherries have been availble for more than several decades.

            1. re: FrankJBN

              So what, I'm not a professional, just someone that has drank an awful lot of sherry since I began my journeys to Andalusia, where Tio Pepe is good and dependable (and one I enjoy I might add), but not up there with the premiums.

              So, wine stores all across America are just bursting at the seams with good sherry. This is why so many people can only put the words Harveys, Dry Sack, and Taylor together with the word sherry. Fine Sherries have always been available at upscale shops and connoisseurs have always been able to get good ones, but not in the mass market. Thankfully, that is changing.

                1. re: bkhuna

                  Harveys have produced some great vintages over the years, sure they are known for Bristol Cream but this was a benchmark product at a time when small production wines were unavailable outside Spain.

                  1. re: nimzo

                    In the history of the company, Harvey's was NEVER "unavailable outside of Spain" -- they are a British wine merchant based in Bristol. Their wines have ALWAYS been sold in the UK.

                    1. re: zin1953

                      I meant that wines from many other companies, especially the good vintage wines, were rarely avalable to the UK consumer and that Harveys were the market leader in sweeter wines perhaps with Byass in the drier style.

                      1. re: nimzo

                        Where do you get this?

                        The British have -- for centuries -- been a major market for Sherry. Shakespeare's character John Falstaff is constantly drinking Sack (Sherry).

                        John Harvey & Sons was a British wine merchant founded in the late-18th century in Bristol, importing Sherry (as well an many other types of wine) long before they were actually making it.

                        So, too, Avery's of Bristol, another UK wine merchant founded in the late 1700s. Avery's was also quite famous for the Sherry they imported and bottled under their own label.

                        Back in the 18th and 19th, and through much of the 20th, centuries, it was most common to import wine in barrel/cask/butt/pipe. The wine merchant would then bottle it. This is certainly true of all the major British wine merchants, and this was standard practice for such merchants as John Harvey & Sons and Avery's, both in Bristol, as well as Berry Bros. & Rudd (founded in 1698) -- -- and Justerini & Brooks (1749) -- -- both in London. I've had dozens of bottles of both Bordeaux and Porto, for example, that were bottled by Berry Bros. & Rudd in the UK.

                        These wine merchants all had reputations for being specialists within certain areas of the market. Harvey's was most famous for their Sherries, though they certainly imported, bottled and sold wines from all over, including Porto, Bordeaux, Burgundy, etc. Milk Sherry was long a popular style until Harvey's "developed" Cream. Avery's, too, was best known for Sherry and Porto, along with Claret.

                        Though Berry Bros. & Rudd and Justerini & Brooks were both excellent wine merchants -- though the former always had the better selection -- both became famous worldwide for whisky: Cutty Sark was the "house label" Scots Whisky for BBR, just as the label J&B Scotch Whisky was the house label for Justerini & Brooks . . .


                        1. re: zin1953

                          If I remember my English History correctly, the Hundred Years War. which lasted from the early 1300's to the mid 1400's made it difficult to get Bordeaux wines (their traditional wine) into England. English wine merchants started shipping in Sherries and Ports, the big port and sherry houses were started with English money and the best of these wines have always been available there.

                          1. re: zin1953

                            I am not questioning the fact that sherries were exported, simply that many of the better wines were unavailable to the general public in the seventies and eighties.The smaller almanecistas tended to concentate on the domestic market and and the better soleras from Osborne, Domecq, Byass, etc were not marketed.Vintages rarely made an appearance before Byass released the anadas from the early sixties( unless you count the two coronation bottlings) and companies like Barbadillo and Williams and Humbert reserved theirs for friends and family.Current choice and availability is much greater than 30 years ago.

          2. re: bkhuna

            Liquor Barn folded some 10 years ago.

            Many of the same people started Beverages, and more!

            1. re: bkhuna

              I like Dry Sack and drink it frequently. I haven't found a sherry at a US retailer that I like as much. Do you have any suggestions for sherries that I could find at a Trader Joe's or BevMo or other large liquor store. Please don't say Harvey's Bristol Cream. I really don't that at all.

              1. re: smile99

                That isn't surprising. After all Harvey's Bristol Cream is a CREAM sherry. Dry Sack is an AMONTILLADO. Two ***very*** different styles of Sherry . . . .

                That said, Dry Sack is not exactly a "true" (Dry) Amontilado either. Despite the name, there is a touch of sweetness there -- more so than, say, Lustau Dry Amontillado would have. Then again, Lustau's Dry Amontillado is a better Sherry (IMHO). You might want to try that, or possibly the ones offered by Barbadillo or Hidalgo.

            2. not a big fan of dry sack either. for really dry sherry i like hidalgo manzanilla and alvear fino, which is made from pedro ximenez.

              anyway, sherry is wine. shouldn't this be in the wine thread?

              1 Reply
              1. re: warrenr

                Alvear Fino is OK, but I prefer Fino's made from the Palomino fino grape, such as Hidalgo La Gitana.

              2. Dry Sack, like Harvey's Bristol Cream, is a Sherry of massive production.

                Dry Sack attempts to be an Amontillado.

                Look for Sherries from producers like:

                -- Lustau
                -- Hidalgo
                -- Gonzales, Byass

                From reading the other posts, it DOES sound as if you're looking for a Fino or a Manzanilla, rather than an Amontillado or Oloroso. Look for the Fino Jarana or Puerto Fino or Manzanilla Papirusa from Lustau. From Hidalgo, look for their La Gitana. While bhkuna likens Tio Pepe to Budweiser, that analogy only fits in terms of size. As with ANY Fino, freshness counts. When buying Tio Pepe (or La Ina, another large volume Fino), you want to make sure the bottle is fresh. A new bottle of Tio Pepe or La Ina iprovides an excellent drink, IMHO, but all too often, these wines are old and stale from sitting too long in a warehouse somewhere.

                My "go to" Fino/Puerto Fino/Manzanillas are Hidalgo's La Gitana Manzanilla, Lustau's Puerto Fino, or their Manzanilla Papirusa.

                5 Replies
                1. re: zin1953

                  Very good point about age. I had Tio Pepe at the Bodega Gonzalez Byass and it was very, very good. The stuff I find on the shelves of most stores around here is of indeterminate age and is often somewhat degraded.

                  It's interesting to note that one of my favorites, La Gitana (which is actually a Manzanilla, not a Fino) has a drink by date on the back of the label. When I was in Sanlucar, I believe the folks at Hidalgo told me six months is the generally accepted age limit for their sherry.

                  1. re: bkhuna

                    You're quite right that La Gitana is a Manzanilla -- I edited the above post to make that more clear.

                    Fino, Puerto Fino and Manzanilla are all essentially the same wine, it's primarily the location that's different. Fino comes from Jerez de la Frontera; Puerto Fino comes from El Puerto de Santa MarĂ­a; while Manzanilla is produced in SanlĂșcar de Barrameda.

                    1. re: zin1953

                      I was lucky in that my daughter lived in El Puerto for a few years, not more than a couple of minutes drive from the Bodega Osbourne.

                    2. re: bkhuna

                      Yikes. The bottle (my first) of La Gitana I just opened has a bottled on date of "MAR-04".

                      Is that a bit old?

                  2. I've never tried Dry Sack, but me and my restaurant cronies always get a giggle when someone orders it...

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                      Why giggle?

                      Try it. There is a reason why some names get famous . . . they're good!

                      You get a freshly opened, freshly imported bottle of Dry Sack, and it can be a fine Sherry. It's not a "classic" Dry Amontillado, but it can be quite good.

                      1. re: zin1953

                        Zin, long time no "talk". Here is a Question right in your wheelhouse:. I recently picked up a 1997 Martha's Vineyard. How do you think that is drinking right now and any advice on decanting ?? Cheers and a belated Happy 2010 !

                        1. re: zin1953

                          Because we're 12.

                          Said in best Beavis and Butthead voice, "Heh, heh, he said dry sack. Heh heh".

                        2. re: invinotheresverde

                          Me, too!!! It's so childish, but I can't help myself.

                          BTW, I prefer Alvear's PX products to PFs anyday and twice on Sundays. Is there a better value than Alvear's de Anada sweetie? I think not...