Sherry: The Fino Things

02 January, 2014

Harveys, which is owned by Beam, sells 65% of its product in the UK, a market which measures 1.12 million 9-litre cases by volume and is worth £90m, says Maxxium, its UK distributor.

Maxxium says Harveys has a 22% volume and a 26% value share. Sales are 5% down this year so, much like at Croft, Maxxium’s marketing controller Eileen Livingston says the “focus has been on stabilising the core Harveys Bristol Cream brand”.  

The recent campaign Harveys’ Half Hour has targeted 30 to 60-year-old females with the suggested serve of Harveys over ice with a slice of orange. 

Livingston says she is aware of interest in the drier styles in London and reports that part of Maxxium’s strategy is to move Harveys Bristol Cream consumers up the Harveys range to its fino, amontillado and Pedro Ximinez styles. “There has been a recent trend towards fino and tonic in the UK, which is similar to younger drinkers in Jerez drinking dry sherry with Sprite. But [in terms of sales] we haven’t seen the signs yet. That could be because, in the on-trade, sales are more fragmented, with interest in smaller brands. I would love to see a rise in our fino sales and see consumers revitalise the sherry category.” 


“The future for sherry is with food,” says Domecq. “We do not expect people to drink sherry with every meal but we have to get away from the image of an old lady pouring last Christmas’s sherry into a thimble glass.” Domecq adds that, while communicating sherry’s spectrum of styles is difficult – as there is no clear image of what sherry is – its diversity can be flaunted when it comes to food.

From the bone-dry, flor-aged finos and amontillados through to the PX, which is essentially a dessert in itself, sherry has the styles to dance to anyone’s tune. The natural partner is, of course, tapas but Domecq says other cuisines complement sherry just as well. He says the Japanese have taken to fino in a big way, as an accompaniment to sushi and sashimi, while smoked salmon and fish stews can also work well with the fortified wine.

Roccio Osborne, from the international department of sherry company Osborne, also sees a future for sherry with food. She reports to have successfully shown that sherries can complement the troublesome trio of asparagus, artichoke and vinegar and says the New York restaurant scene is where it’s at as far as sherry and food matching goes. She cites Sherry Fest as having made an impact on New York’s tastes and says on a brand level she has hosted talks and masterclasses.

Much of the training she does revolves around simple advice such as storing sherry as a wine, not a spirit. “We are trying to train people to not drink sherry at room temperature. Amontillado and oloroso should be chilled to 12-13° and Fino 6-7°.” Another perception is that fortified wines have high abvs. “We are also trying to show people that 15% abv is not that high,” says Osborne. “In Australia and southern Spain wines have similar abvs to sherry.”

For Rebuelta “the big issue is the glass size in the on-trade”, which still to this day is often smaller than a regular wine glass. “For many years we have sold sherry as an aperitif in a small glass when a glass of Chardonnay is far bigger. Consumers will have just one glass if it’s an aperitif. That’s what we have to change. We have to have a fino with our first dish.”


Sherry certainly doesn’t suffer from its ‘aperitif’ tag in the open-minded world of cocktails. In fact, judging by recent cocktail competitions attended by Drinks International, bartenders are in love with the wine because of its varying uses. 

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