If you love spending time in your kitchen making rich, luxurious sauces, marinades and soups, you’ve probably come across a recipe or two that called for either sherry or cooking sherry.
The two can be substituted for each other in almost every instance, but you may have to adjust your salt seasoning slightly to get a perfect match.
So what is the best cooking sherry? The best cooking sherry will have just the right amount of salt added to the batch to extend the life of the wine as much as possible without destroying the balance of your recipe.
In this article, we’ve shared our favorite cooking sherry and also provided some much-needed information about the differences between cooking wines and traditional drinking alcohol.
What is Cooking Sherry?
Cooking with sherry has been a popular way of enhancing the flavor of many different recipes for generations, but it has drawbacks.
Traditional sherry, like other types of wine, will only stay fresh for a few days once the bottle is open. If you’re not planning on drinking the rest of it, the amount you need for cooking can leave the rest to go to waste.
Cooking sherry solves that problem with much higher sodium content. The extra salt helps to preserve the wine so that it lasts longer if you’re only using it for cooking. It doesn’t taste great to drink, on the other hand.
Just like traditional sherry, cooking sherry is a grape wine that is fortified with brandy. With the additional salt, when it’s used for cooking it can enhance your recipe with a sweet, nutty undertone to your dish.
Cooking Sherry Alcohol Content
Some cooking wine is manufactured to be non-alcoholic and, if you search far and wide, you may find a bottle of non-alcoholic cooking sherry, but it is not usually the case.
Just like traditional drinking sherry, cooking sherry will usually have 17% Alcohol By Volume (ABV), though you may find it as low as 11%. The cooking process will burn off the majority of this alcohol, however.
Cooking sherry, as previously mentioned, has a high salt content that does make a considerable impact on the flavor. While it’s perfectly reasonable to cook with traditional sherry, it is not a pleasant experience to drink cooking sherry.
The Best Cooking Sherry
Cooking sherry is more difficult to find than a traditional bottle of sherry wine. It can be tricky for manufacturers to find the right balance between flavor, added salt, and preservation quality.
We’ve done the research for you and found the best 3 cooking sherry options on the market.
To offer you even more value, you’ll also find 2 additional product options that can meet your cooking sherry needs in new and exciting ways.
|Rank||Cooking Sherry Brand||Best For|
|1.||Reese Cooking Sherry||Occasional sherry usage|
|2.||Holland House Cooking Sherry||Traditional sherry flavor|
|3.||Roland Cooking Sherry||High volume usage|
|4.||Soeos Shaoxing Cooking Wine||Asian cuisine|
|5.||Holland House Cooking Wine||Variety & experimentation|
1. Reese Sherry Cooking Wine
Reese Specialty Foods is a brand that focuses on delivering gourmet ingredients that create a Michelin star experience in any home’s kitchen. Their Vintage Cooking Wines combine taste with quality and affordability and their sherry is no exception.
- 12.7 oz bottle is small for cooks who only use cooking sherry in small amounts
- Smooth, dry, and light flavor
- Light amber color doesn’t affect the visual appeal of lighter colored sauces or recipes
Biggest Drawback: The flavor of this cooking sherry is very light. Many cooks appreciate this because sherry is designed to enhance the other flavors of your recipe, but some cooks are looking for a bolder, deeper flavor that this simply brand doesn’t offer.
2. Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine
Holland House has been dedicated to crafting high-quality cooking wines for more than a century and they’re considered the #1 brand of cooking wines in America.
They’ve long since perfected their blends, using very select grapes and just the right balance of salt.
- 16 oz bottle
- Light golden color and sweet fragrance with no alcoholic fumes
- Mildly dry flavor with hints of caramel and a nutty undertone
Biggest Drawback: Some cooking sherry options have no alcohol in them at all, whereas Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine still contains 17% ABV. For some, this adds to the authenticity of the ingredients. For others, it makes the cooking wine inappropriate for their dietary, religious, or other requirements.
3. Roland Sherry Cooking Wine
Honestly, there is not a lot of information available about the manufacturer so it’s hard to assess the company values or quality control.
What we do know is that this brand packages their cooking sherry in gallon-sized jugs, so this particular option is for serious home cooks who make a lot of marinades and sauces.
This cooking sherry will last you a while, at least in volume.
- 1-gallon jug for busy kitchens that use a lot of cooking sherry
- Fortified with grain spirits (Brandy) to bring the ABV up to 17%
- Gluten-free and Kosher friendly
Biggest Drawback: This, along with all other cooking wines, has a purposefully high salt content. This helps preserve the wine so that it can be stored longer. If you’re not familiar with this technique, it can make you think that the quality is lower and that salt was added to try to disguise the inferior flavor. This is not the truth of the matter, but it is undeniably true that cooking sherry is salty and not to everyone’s preferences.
4. Soeos Shaoxing Cooking Wine
Cooking sherry is a very specific choice that is called for in many recipes. Not everyone appreciates the hint of nutty caramel or the alcohol content, however.
Shaoxing cooking wine is very popular in Asian cuisine and it makes a great stand-in for cooking sherry if you want something a bit different.
It is made from fermented rice, rather than grapes and that does result in a subtle flavor difference, but it also has caramel, which is a notable flavor in cooking sherry.
Regardless, it will enhance the flavors of your recipe beautifully.
- 640 mL bottle (approximately 21 oz)
- Most popular cooking wine for Asian recipes
- Flavor that is strong enough to shine in a sauce without being overwhelming in intensity
Biggest Drawback: Because it is a salted cooking wine, when using it in your recipes it can lead to overly salty food if you’re not careful to adjust. This is most obvious with some Asian cuisines that call for soy sauce or miso, which are quite salty themselves.
5. Holland House Cooking Wine
We’ve already talked about the high-quality and respected name of Holland House, and their sherry cooking wine specifically takes the #2 spot on our list of favorites.
If you’re new to cooking with wine, we love this variety pack of 4 which gives you the option to taste test with a variety of cooking wines.
In most recipes, cooking wines can be substituted for one another with delicious results, though there will be a subtle flavor difference. With this 4-pack you will receive the cooking sherry, but you’ll also have 3 other options to experiment with.
- Contains 4 separate bottles of 13.1oz cooking wine
- Sample pack of cooking wines, including Sherry, Marsala, Red, and White
Biggest Drawback: Whenever you buy a sample pack there is some risk that you’ll love one or two of the options and not enjoy the others as much. With the smaller bottles this is both less risky, but also can be less rewarding because you’ll have to repurchase your favorite(s) sooner rather than later.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cooking Sherry
What is a good substitute for cooking sherry?
The best substitute for cooking sherry is drinking sherry, though if your recipe specifically calls for cooking sherry, you may have to add more salt to get the seasoning right.
If you choose to substitute with another traditional drinking wine that is not sherry, choose a dry red or white.
You can also try substituting almost any type of cooking wine. Shaoxing is probably the closest match, but Madeira, Marsala, or even Port cooking wine will also work well.
If you want a non-alcoholic substitution for cooking sherry, you can try a sherry vinegar tempered with some added water and possibly a bit of sugar. Some people will also substitute orange juice or an extract for added flavor.
Sherry cooking wine vs sherry vinegar?
When sherry wine is converted to sherry vinegar, the alcohol content is converted to vinegar or acetic acid. Because of this, it’s much more acidic than the wine.
They can be substituted for each other recipes, if necessary, but it can change the balance of the dish noticeably.
If you need an alternative, you’d be better off substituting another type of cooking wine for cooking sherry and another type of wine vinegar for sherry vinegar.
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