How long to keep an open bottle of Sherry

Ok, I appreciate that Sherry may not be the most fashionable of wines and probably conjures rather unwanted images of old great aunts, sipping on a glass of Harvey’s Bristol cream from a dusty old bottle that has been grabbed from the very depths of the cupboard!

In all seriousness, there is a lot to enjoy about Sherry, and not just for perking up the Christmas trifle.  It’s hugely versatile – there are so many different styles from the bone dry fino, to the sweet Cream and the even more luxuriantly stickie and sweet PX – that it’s well worth re-visiting Sherry.

But I digress, the reason for this (short) post is to give you a quick overview of drinking windows (and storage) for when (or if) you open the Sherry.  Note: For storage, once opened always firmly cork and store upright NOT on its side.

Luxurious PX from Sandeman

Drinking windows

Fino and Manzanilla Sherries (the pale ones which have been aged under Flor so are very dry, salty and yeasty) – once open these should be stored in the fridge and consumed within a week or two.

Amontillado and Palo Cortado’s – these have some ageing under Flor with a bit of exposure to oxygen so are darker in colour and nuttier in flavour.  As such they have a slightly longer shelf-life: maybe a month in the fridge.

Oloroso – these are exposed to oxygen throughout and are even nuttier and darker in colour. These will last around a month, possibly a bit longer in the fridge.

Blended Cream sherry and PX (this is the sticky, sweet and luxuriant Pedro Ximénez which is brilliant poured over ice-cream) – these are sweet and very dark in colour.  Because of the sugars they are much more stable and can last a couple of months (in the case of PX even longer) in a cool place.

Just remember, once they are opened, they become exposed to oxygen and will gradually start to deteriorate, so its always best to try and drink them in their prime.

Top Tip –

Sherry is best opened near to its bottling date. (Although unopened bottles can last a few years they are fresher in youth).  

While it is not always apparent what the bottling date is, there is a way to work it out. All bottles of sherry will have a code (probably unhelpfully printed directly onto the glass on the back of the bottle). Unfortunately, there are different versions of these codes, some with 4 numbers, some with 5 but the below will give you an idea:

If you see a code that has 4 numbers after the letter L’  ie “L0140” – the 0 is the year ie 2020 (if it was 9 it would be 2019) and the 140 denotes the 140 day of the year which is 20th May. So this sherry was bottled on the 20th May 2020! 

If you see a 5 number code the first three numbers pertain to the day of the year, the last two, the actual year in question.  Ie L10019, this is the 100th day of the year ie 10th April 2019

Confused?  Helpfully, some supermarket own-brand Sherry now have the full date printed, which makes things a lot easier, but at least now you know what the pesky codes mean!

For more info on Sherry (for those interested), I wrote a blog post a couple of years back that may be of interest Spotlight on fortifieds Part 1

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Peter G

    I just bought a bottle of fino extra dry sherry for cooking. I guess it doesn’t have much of a shelf life then, like vermouth does.

  2. Sam

    Hi Peter, unfortunately not – you are looking at about a week or so in the fridge. That said, that’s not to say you can’t use it after this time for cooking purposes but just bear in mind it starts deteriorating as soon as it’s open.

  3. Peter G

    Thanks, Sam! I wonder if it deteriorates enough not to be usable for cooking either. Does it become vinegary?

  4. Sam

    Best thing I can suggest is you taste it first, if it is unpalatable throw it as you don’t want it ruining your dinner!

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