Add sherry to a pan sauce for extra flavor.David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images
Dry cooking sherry has a light, but rich, flavor that pairs well with pork, poultry and seafood. Just a few tablespoons enriches soups, stews and sauces. Dry cooking sherry lasts longer than other types of wine, but it isn't invincible. The better the wine, the faster you should use it, and in most cases, it should be refrigerated after opening. Only cooking wines that contain salt can be stored without refrigeration.
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Read the Label
Whether cooking sherry needs refrigeration after opening depends on the type of sherry. Sherry labeled for cooking typically contains salt and is shelf-stable, requiring no refrigeration. Inexpensive dry sherry that is suitable for drinking can also be used in cooking. These wines contain no salt and should be refrigerated after opening.
Sherry is an enriched wine, which increases its longevity. Still, once opened, the flavor quickly dissipates. An unopened bottle of sherry stored in a dark, cool place will stay fresh for 12 months. Once opened, cork the bottle tightly and store it in the refrigerator for one to three weeks, but no longer than a month. Store cooking sherry in a dry, cool pantry and use it by the "best used by" date on the bottle, typically within a few months.
Choosing a Sherry
Although you can use cooking wine in your dish, you're probably better off with an inexpensive regular sherry instead. Cooking wines are usually made from thin, poor wine stock and have a lot of salt, as much as 1 teaspoon per cup. It's easy to add too much salt when using these types of wines. You can buy a suitable sherry for just a few dollars, which will add flavor and richness to your dish without the worry of over-salting it.
When to Toss It
Whether you store sherry in the refrigerator or the pantry, smell and taste it before you use it. As sherry ages, it can develop a bitter or sour flavor, almost like vinegar. If the wine tastes or smells bad, throw it out, no matter what the expiration date says. Using old sherry can ruin the taste of a dish.