This post was originally published on March 30, 2020 and was updated with new text and photos on January 5, 2023.
From wine connoisseurs and craft cocktail drinkers to curious wine drinkers, everyone is talking about sherry wines these days. It’s no wonder that so many curious travelers are looking to satiate their interest. And for those who haven’t yet delved into the world of this fascinating Spanish wine, there’s no better place to do so than at one of the best sherry bars in Madrid. (Okay, maybe in a sherry wine bodega in Jerez, but that’s for another trip.)
Sherry wine has made waves across the globe in recent years. From the wine lists at top restaurants to the ingredients used by sleek cocktail bars, it’s the southern Spanish wine that has the whole world talking.
Want to see what the big deal is? Head to one of the best sherry bars in Madrid to discover it for yourself.
What is Sherry Wine?
For those who, at the mention of sherry, imagine a syrupy sweet wine only consumed by an elder member of their family, some clarification is in order. Let’s start with the basics of what, exactly, sherry wine is.
Sherry is a style of fortified wines coming from the denominación de origen (protected geographic region) of Jerez. Located in the southwest of Spain in the province of Cadiz, this region boasts thousands of years of winemaking history. It’s all thanks to the Phoenicians, who brought the first grapes to Iberia roughly 3,000 years ago.
To earn sherry status, the wine must come from one of the three towns in the “sherry triangle.” Those are El Puerto de Santa María, Jerez de la Frontera, and Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
And so we could wax poetic for ages about all the subtle differences between a manzanilla and a fino, or how to pair which fish with which sherry. But the key is simply experiencing sherry wines for yourself.
Though we’re some 450 kilometers away from the Jerez region, a small community of chefs, bartenders, and restaurateurs in Madrid are serving this uniquely Spanish wine to those of us who are sherry obsessed. Here are some of the best sherry bars in Madrid to learn for yourself why we love it so much.
Top 5 Sherry Bars in Madrid
Originally opened in 1922, La Venencia (Calle de Echegaray, 7) is no secret, but we’d be remiss to leave off the list.
This popular tavern in Huertas hasn’t changed much since its doors opened nearly 100 years ago. The wait staff note your order in chalk on the bar, don’t allow any tipping, only serve sherry, and prohibit guests from taking photographs inside.
Glasses of sherry vary in price from €1.90 to €2.50, with the option of ordering half bottles or bottles as well for less than €15. Each glass comes with a free tapa (chips, olives, or peanuts, depending on the sherry you order). There is also a great range of classic raciones: from charcuterie and cheese to anchovies and mojama, a salt-cured tuna that goes marvelously with fino.
La Venencia is a great place to learn about the different styles of sherry in a historic setting – and with very reasonable prices, to boot!
Run by brothers David and Mario Villalón, Angelita kills two birds with one stone.
Upstairs, you have the simple and chic restaurant serving modern takes on Spanish classics. Think oxtail cannelloni topped with sherry wine-hollandaise sauce and wild foraged mushrooms, oftentimes utilizing ingredients from their parent’s farm in Zamora. Meanwhile, downstairs you have the American-style bar serving fantastic cocktails.
The wine list is extensive—naturally with an incredible selection of sherries—while the cocktail bar downstairs incorporates sherry into several of their cocktails. The custom cheese plates are incredible, and the sommeliers are happy to answer any questions while you’re on your path to falling in love with sherry.
Madrid & Darracott
Although technically a wine shop, Madrid & Darracott also offers wine tastings several times a week. It opened in 2019 and is run by previous Devour Madrid guide Luke Darracott, whose contagious love for sherry will rub off on everyone he meets.
Luke has an entire section of the shop dedicated to sherry. He’s more than happy to explain each wine and help buyers choose the perfect sherry wine to drink while on vacation in Madrid, or to take back home with you to convert your friends.
In 2016, the owners of the classic Malasaña establishment Bodega de la Ardosa acquired the space next door. Their goal: to bring it back to its original glory as a bar specializing in sherries.
Casa Baranda is similar to La Venencia in that the sherry is served in bulk directly from the casks into reusable bottles. As a result, the prices are very economical. The zinc bar dates back to 1919, and the menu here has more options than La Venencia (the tortilla, patatas bravas, and fried eggplant are all musts).
Before a night out, nothing beats stopping by Casa Baranda in the late afternoon for a glass of dry sherry. For just a few Euros, they serve the classic Cádiz pairing of mojama (the previously mentioned salt cured tuna) and fino sherry with marcona almonds and a drizzle of olive oil. The pairing is perfection.
Be careful, however, as this is the kind of bar where one round turns into five and it’s midnight before you know it. Luckily you will be in Malasaña and your options are plentiful to continue your night out!
Named after one of the three towns in the Sherry Triangle—Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the hometown of manzanilla—Taberna Sanlúcar is the best possible way to travel down to the sherry region while staying in Madrid.
It has everything we love in a Spanish tavern. They’ve got simple food showcasing regional and seasonal produce (try the sea anemone fritter when available), extremely friendly wait staff, locals rubbing shoulders and sharing food and drinks, ice cold Alhambra beer—and of course a great selection of sherry.
The tortillitas de camarón—shrimp fritters made with chickpea flour typical in Cádiz—are a must. Another standout is their fried cod served with potato, olive oil, and roasted red pepper. This is the kind of tavern that makes everything right in life.
Madrid Sherry Bars FAQs
Sherry is a type of fortified white wine, but that said, there are a few key things that set it apart. Sherry wine can only be made in the Jerez reason of southern Spain, mainly uses the palomino grape, and is produced with a unique and complex maturation system known as the solera.
Sherry’s diverse spectrum makes it one of the easiest wines to pair with food. Dry sherries like fino and manzanilla are particularly great appetite openers, and work well as an aperitif. On the sweeter end of the spectrum, PX and cream sherries are classic dessert wines. And of course, any sherry is also delicious on its own!
What does sherry taste like?
Although most people think of sherry wines as excessively sweet, only cream and Pedro Ximenez (or P.X., as it’s also known) sherries are sweet. The remaining styles of fino, manzanilla, amontillado, oloroso and palo cortado are all dry.
Those last three are oxidative wines which pair well with strong cheeses, game and the like. Their nutty, caramel finish has also made them extremely popular in the craft cocktail world both in Spain and abroad.
Here’s to finding your favorite sherry – ¡Salud!