Why I Always Have a Bottle of Sherry in My Kitchen

I nearly always have a bottle of dry sherry in my kitchen, and no, it's not just for tippling while cooking. Here are a few reasons why I keep this lovely, inexpensive wine around all the time:

First, a quick refresh of a primer on sherry: Sherry is a fortified wine, meaning that it is fortified with a neutral spirit, which makes it both higher in alcohol and longer-lasting. Sherries range from very sweet to quite dry, and these drier sherries are phenomenally food-friendly. They have been making a comeback but they are still quite inexpensive; I buy dry sherry at Trader Joe's for less than $7 a bottle.

And here is why I buy it frequently and keep it around all the time:

  1. Sherry is one of the best choices for deglazing and for sauces - Making a roast or a pork chop or two? Maybe some seared chicken breasts? Have a lot of crispy browned goodness stuck to the pan? Pour in a splash of sherry and make a quick pan sauce. The flavors of dry sherry complement everything from pork to chicken to shellfish. It's my go-to bottle when I need to make an impromptu pan sauce.
  2. Unlike other white wines, sherry lasts a long time - Because sherry is fortified it lasts longer than an opened bottle of regular red or white wine. The drier styles keep for over a week in the fridge; I've kept manzanilla sherry for three weeks without too much noticeable drop in flavor.
  3. Sherry is a very good deal - Like I said above, sherry tends to be quite inexpensive. Even a nice dry sherry won't set you back too much, and I find that even the cheapest ones (think, $4 like the passable Taylor sherry pictured above) can be very drinkable. Some of my favorite sherries are still under $15.
  4. Sherry is good for drinking, too - Unlike a super cheap bottle of white wine that you might buy to cook with, inexpensive dry sherry is also good for drinking. (Just make sure you don't accidentally buy "cooking sherry" which may have salt added to it.) A glass of sherry is beautiful with a salad, some cheese, nearly any meal.

Those are my reasons why sherry has become my go-to cooking wine. Do you cook with sherry? What do you like to do with it?

More on sherry:
Why Sherry Is So Extraordinary
Recipe: Sherry-Garlic Soup with Smoked Paprika
Recipe: Sherry Vinaigrette
A Safe Bet: Sherry and Cheese. Together.

(Image: Faith Durand)