What is dried Sherry?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What is dried Sherry? Does it contain any alcohol in its dried-out state? And would it contain alcohol if I just added water to it?

—Tom, South Africa

Dear Tom,

I think you’re confusing “dried Sherry” for “dry Sherry.” There is no Sherry in powdered form.

Sherry is a fortified wine, which means distilled spirits were added to it, kind of like vermouth. Sherry is made in a variety of styles, from clear and pale to sweet and rich. To distinguish the not-sweet version (often used to cook with) from the sweet stuff, it’s referred to as “dry Sherry.” It doesn’t mean it comes powdered, it just means that it’s not sweet, as “dry” means the opposite of “sweet” in the context of alcoholic beverages.

Powdered forms of alcohol are actually in development, but not yet widely available. From what I understand, there is a way to absorb the alcohol into a sugar derivate before turning it into powder, and then when you reconstitute it with water, it does have alcohol in it. So perhaps powdered Sherry isn’t far behind.

—Dr. Vinny

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