You might have a bottle of Waitrose Sherry tucked away in a cupboard somewhere. Maybe you serve it to your grandmother at Christmas, or you splash a little on your midweek stir fry. Perhaps you even drink it. While there’s nothing explicitly wrong with Waitrose Sherry or other supermarket own-brand fortified wines, we’ve got good news for Sherry fans: You can do better.
What’s wrong with buying Waitrose Sherry?
Look, there’s nothing exactly wrong with buying Waitrose Sherry, or Tesco Port, or whatever the case may be. Own-brand supermarket wine tends to be quite affordable, and you can pick it up conveniently as you shop for toilet paper or eggs.
And there’s the issue: Waitrose Sherry and similar own-label wines are often treated as commodities by the retailers. Yes, it’s really wine from Jerez, but there are a few good reasons why it’s not going to be the best expression of the region:
Waitrose Sherry and other wines like this usually have quite affordable retail prices. This is nice for the consumer, but it means that costs have been cut somewhere along the supply chain. Generally, this means that the retailer sources the wine at the lowest available cost. It’s not necessarily bad wine, but it’s entry-level, commodity wine.
Big supermarket chains are huge, successful companies with hundreds of individual stores and millions of demanding customers. The quantities they require to meet customer demand, whether that be Waitrose Sherry or Sainsbury’s kitchen roll, mean that they must source products from large scale producers. The world’s best wines tend to come from small producers and are made in very small quantities, as quality is the focus above all else!
If you’re cool with those considerations, then, by all means, head to the supermarket and stock up on Waitrose Sherry and Asda Champagne. If you’re intrigued by what else is out there, though, read on!
Three alternatives to Waitrose Sherry
Your bottle of Waitrose Sherry is all well and good, but you can do better if you know where to look. Whether it’s smaller producers, special wine styles or critics’ favourites, there’s a whole lot of great Sherry out there to try. Here are three of our favourites!
1. Juan Piñero Fino Camborio
Very affordable and highly rated, Juan Piñero’s Fino Camborio is a great substitute for Waitrose Sherry. With 94 points from Guía Peñín and 91 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, this Fino dry Sherry is a winner.
Pair this with a bowl of pretzels or mixed nuts and enjoy!
2. Manzanilla Papirusa
Neighbouring Jerez de la Frontera is the Sanlúcar de Barrameda region, home of Manzanilla style Sherry. These wines tend to be tangier and saltier than those from Jerez, and really show a sense of place, or what the French call terroir. Emilio Lustau is the quality producer behind Manzanilla Papirusa, a highly-rated fortified wine. Top scores include 92 points from Guía Peñín and 90 points each from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator.
This is a great match with fish and chips, believe it or not!
3. Hidalgo Fino
Emilio Hidalgo is one of the top names in Jerez. The bodega produces a wide range of Sherry wines, from entry-level to seriously high end. It’s a sign of the producer’s dedication to quality that Hidalgo Fino, its basic Fino Sherry, is such a fantastic wine. Considering its very modest price, this one wipes the floor with Waitrose Sherry and even some more expensive dry Sherries. At 90 points from Wine Spectator, this is always a good choice.
Enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean by pairing this one with barbequed or grilled sardines!
Strengthen your fortified wine knowledge with our free ebook, The 4 Fortified Wines You Need to Know.