It’s a traditional offering to Santa on Christmas Eve: a glass of sherry, usually accompanied by a mince pie.
But this year, it’s not just everyone’s favourite red-suited gift-giver who’ll be partial to the venerable Spanish aperitif.
After years of unfashionability, sherry has made a comeback, with sales up 17.6% in the 12 weeks to 5 December, says market research firm Nielsen.
Retailers are reporting increased demand from young and old alike.
For instance, the Co-op says it has sold an extra 44,000 litres of sherry this year, and with sales up 70% on last year.
Simon Cairns, head of drinks at the Co-op, said: “It’s great to see that consumers are experimenting with their drinks and that sherry has made a comeback.
“The introduction of more stylish sherries, such as Pedro Ximenez, has caught the eye of the younger generation who are turning to this as they experiment more at home to recreate their favourite drinks.”
Analysts say the renewed interest in sherry began during the first coronavirus lockdown, when people started trying different tipples and even mixing their own cocktails.
A spokesman for Majestic Wine, which has also seen sherry sales rise 70% this year, said: “We’ve increased our range of sherry this Christmas, because there’s been a lot of interest over the year.”
Majestic points to the “tapas effect”, with people becoming used to encountering sherry as part of a gastronomic experience in Spanish restaurants.
After restaurants had to close, diners wanted to replicate that experience at home.
“People have been thinking, ‘I’m going to have a bottle at home to go with my lockdown nibbles,'” the spokesman said.
And in another sign that the drink is no longer the preserve of maiden aunts, drier styles have benefited from the surge in popularity, although the sweeter cream varieties are still the most sipped.
Waitrose says sales of sweet sherry have risen 24% year-on-year, with dry sherries up 20%.
At Majestic, however, it’s the drier versions that predominate, with Fino and Amontillado among the best-sellers.
Majestic says it’s too early to know whether the sherry revival is merely a “flash in the pan” or whether it will be sustained.
But for this Christmas at least, sherry is no longer a drink to trifle with.