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Sherry Vinegar from SpainSherry vinegar or Vinagre de Jerez is one of the chefs best kept secrets. A true gourmet product in its own right the sherry vinegar is a highly versatile ingredient which has a multitude of uses in many Spanish recipes either in cooking such as the paella or as a simple vinaigrette.

Only produced in the Cadiz province near Jerez de la Frontera the vinegar has earned its name being made from sherry, aged in American oak casks for a minimum period of six months and being strictly monitored and controlled to gain the famous DO or Denominacion the Origen. The region also produces the very popular Jerez wines, sherries and brandies.

So how is the vinegar produced? To begin with we must start with sherry; the oak casks have previously contained sherry wine and have absorbed many of the qualities which distinguish the vinegar flavour. The system involved is called the Solera system. This involves rows of barrels each containing 500 litres of sherry vinegar. The final row (and oldest) barrels contain the solera vinegar which is regularly tapped into for bottling. Further down the line (or row above) lie the younger barrels - it is the vinegar from these which is used to top up the solera barrels resulting in a consistent ageing process.

Climate also plays an important role in production. The area has its own micro climate and while the region is very hot the constant sea breeze brings a fresh circulation to the area, it is this factor which contributes to the distinctive quality of the sherry vinegar.

Sherry vinegar adds a subtle flavour to many dishes, most of the longer aged vinegars go exceptionally well with white and red meats as well as fish and salads. Younger varieties add some real authentic flavour to vinaigrettes and recipes such as Gazpacho, indeed a real Gazpacho simply must have a dash of sherry vinegar!

Sherry vinegar has begun to gain momentum and is now increasingly popular in every European kitchen. Given its status (DO), unique production and locality it is now recognised as a gourmet product in a class of its own.

Simple suggestions:

  • Salads - season with a few drops of sherry vinegar and olive oil.
  • Gazpacho - add 5 tablespoons of sherry vinegar for every litre.
  • Vinaigrette - sherry vinegar, olive oil, crushed garlic and Dijon mustard.
  • Strawberries - sliced strawberries, add one drop of vinegar per slice.
  • Salsas - add a few drops per 500ml


Serrano Ham direct from Spain : www.orceserranohams.com

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Published 07 May 2008

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