Sherry vinegar, or more correctly vinagre de Jerez (or Xeres), is made in oak barrels previously used for aging sherry and made on the same solera system, in a network of barrels. It is just as revered as aged balsamic vinegar, but it has not been popularized in the same way. It’s golden brown and clear, not syrupy like balsamic, but it can be just as beguiling, and just as addictive.
Sherry vinegar has a bracing spicy sharpness that emanates a lingering warmth, with nuances of roasted nuts, oakiness from the barrels and sweet floral spices. You could say a good aged sherry vinegar possesses all the complexity of a fine wine.
How to use it then? A classic salad, especially one with robust ingredients, will show it off, but it adds a sparkle, a fresh note, a welcome tang to stuffings, gravies, sauces and stews. It’s a must in gazpacho and in white bean stews and to brighten seafood and vegetable tapas. Use it to deglaze pans after pan-frying, or in marinades as a tenderiser.