Nothing Could Be Fino

The dry sherry is a sommelier's secret weapon

Ask for a glass of sherry at dinner and too often you get a cordial glass filled with a sweet, raisiny, fortified wine. But the next time you're looking for a crisp white to go with tapas or seafood, look for fino sherry. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Unique and often misunderstood, fino is the youngest of all the Spanish sherries. It's made from the Palmino grape and fortified with brandy, but pale in color and light and dry on the palate, with a tangy, nutty flavor. It's a perfect accompaniment to salty cured meats, chilled seafood (including sushi) and soups such as gazpacho. The best part: It's a great value.

Bar Pintxo's chef, Rob Trester, likes El Maestro Sierra Fino ($4 a glass) with tapas such as fresh tomatoes and jamón or a sharp Spanish cheese. At Craft L.A., try the Lustau Puerto Fino ($11 a glass) with Craftbar dishes like smoked ono and succotash. The SLS Hotel's beverage director, Lucas Paya, says finos are great with The Bazaar's liquid olives. He offers three on the menu, including the refreshing Tio Pepe Gonzales Byass Fino ($9 a glass).

Like any white wine, fino should be refrigerated, then consumed within a few days of opening. Don't be afraid to ask to taste before you buy a glass at a restaurant–the color should be bright (not cloudy) and should smell fresh, not overly pungent.