What kind of sherry did Frasier drink?

The sherry marketing board should have made more of the Crane brothers’ love of sherry. In every episode of the long-running sitcom Frasier there they were with their decanter and little glasses. There wasn’t a problem that couldn’t be solved by a drink and some up-market badinage. I occasionally used to speculate about what sort of sherry they would drink. The quality would be impeccable of course; Frasier only drinks the best wine. They do, however, get through a lot of it so that would rule out the more austere amontillados. It would  have to be something fine but extremely drinkable with an amber burnish.

I can now reveal what they were actually drinking. . . it’s Harvey’s Bristol Cream. In Season 6 episode 9 Frasier decants a distinctive blue bottle. No wonder he decanted it. I cannot see that bottle going down well at his wine club. It seems odd that someone as pretentious as Frasier would drink something as everyday as Bristol Cream.  There can be three possible answers: 1) Daphne bought it in place of his usual sherry and Frasier and Niles cannot tell the difference; 2) the producers of the show just assumed that all sherry is the same; 3) Frasier likes Bristol Cream.

I like to think it’s number three. Bristol Cream is a comforting drink that invites conviviality rather than reflection. No wonder it is always served at funerals. Apparently if  you cellar it for 5 years, it loses its slightly cloying initial taste and becomes rather elegant. I haven’t tried it though I did try something similar a few years ago when my grandfather died. In his cellar, amongst the half bottle of 1937 Army & Navy claret, a 1982 Mouton Cadet and an ancient Beaujolais Villages (all vinegar), we found a magnum of Williams & Humbert Dry Sack. My father estimated it had been there for 20 years at least. There was a lot of sediment but the wine once decanted was lovely – gently fruity, nutty and off dry. Just the kind of thing I imagine Frasier would have taken comfort in after another humiliating date.

Harvey’s Bristol Cream is widely available for about £7. Harvey’s used to sell a ready aged 5 year old.

Williams & Humbert, produce a Dry Sack Fino and Dry Sack Medium both for about £10. I imagine the latter is closer to my grandfather’s. Very nice now though even better if kept for 20 years.

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About Henry

I am a freelance writer who has written about books, drinks and food - often all three at once - for various publications including the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, Spectator Time Out, thefirstpost.co.uk, momondo.com, thedabbler.co.uk, Foxed Quarterly and Quintessentially magazine. I have no formal wine training though I did work for two years at Oddbins.
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36 Responses to What kind of sherry did Frasier drink?

  1. Anne says:

    This is a far cry from the days when my friends and I used to get tanked up on a pint of cheap Kwiksave sherry BEFORE going out to the pub at uni – ah…those were the days!

    A great post – lovely reminder of the great Frasier sitcom! Can just picture Frasier and Niles pontificating, wearing chinos…

  2. Dom Dwight says:

    I accidentally ‘cellared’ some Harveys for about five years, in that it was given to me and I hid it away not wanting to actually drink it. Of course I did drink it in the end, when there was nothing else in the house and it was too cold to walk to the shop. I’d agree – not anywhere near as sickly when it’s knocking on a bit.

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  4. Eric says:

    I embarrassingly looked into this issue and the answer isn’t that easy. You’re probably right in that the bottle in the mentioned episode is blue, most likely a prop mistake, but seeing how Frasier had a taste for the finer things in life his character wouldn’t be caught dead with a cream. Sherry connoisseurs hands down prefer dry sherries. In dialogue Frasier states that he drinks Amontillado Oloroso which would actually be closer to the truth, but also a mistake being that Amontillado and Oloroso are two different kinds of sherry. Unfortunately more problems rear their ugly heads with the above answer. When Frasier goes to his decanter the sherry inside is a light yellow color which means it can’t be any of the above sherries, but most likely a Fino. The other inconsistency is that the majority of sherries should be kept in the fridge and served chilled. A decanter should never be kept on a shelf, something his character would/should have known.

    • Henry says:

      There’s no need to be embarrassed, I think about this every time I watch an episode. As you have correctly pointed out the writers of Frasier do not seem to know as much about sherry as their doctor is supposed to. In one episode, Frasier and Nile’s mentor mentions a specific sherry – ‘an Andalusian amontillado.’ This is meaningless comment as all proper sherry is from Andalusia. It is hardly likely that Frasier would be drinking a Cypriot sherry-style drink. I suppose it is a futile business looking for consistency or accuracy in wine over the course of a long-running sitcom.

      • Anonymous says:

        In the episode “Fathers and Sons”. Frasier clearly states the Sherry he is sharing with Leland is “Andalusian Amontillado”.

        It may be meaningless “as all proper sherry is from Andalusia” like all Champagne is from Champagne region of France. But sparkling wine made with the exact same process and grapes in California would not be distinguishable from those made in Champagne. Only those made in Champagne are Champagne.

        The reason I bring up the Champagne comment is, since most non-connoisseurs don’t realize that fact (The majority of Frasier’s viewership). It is conceivable the writers had Frasier describe it as “Andalusian Amontillado” so non-connoisseurs would be able to research it. Or they had Frasier specify it as Andalusian to signify it is the genuine article.

        I have read several comments about what was in the real decanter and that it is too light to be an Amontillado. In reality what the actors were drinking was most likely colored water. Colored water is often used to simulate alcoholic beverages in television and movies. After all it would not be very efficient for the talent to become inebriated on set. Therefore, it was a prop and the improper coloring was due to the prop department not matching the color to the Sherry mentioned in the script.

        I don’t remember if the decanter of Sherry was used prior to the episode “Fathers and Sons”. If so, before the script writers mentioned the name of the particular Sherry the prop department had already established the color. As a result it would break continuity to alter the color at this time.

        So the right answer is…. An Amontillado from Andalusia. This is what was intended by the writers.

        I am not a connoisseur and have not had privilege of an Amontillado from Andalusia. Or an Amontillado sherry-style drink. Therefore, I am unaware of the color of an Amontillado from personal experience.

        I arrived here because I was curious as to what was supposed to be the liquid in the decanter Frasier often drinks. And have based my comment on knowledge of using colored water for alcohol on TV and Movies, comments on this site and reviewing a clip from the “Fathers and Sons”.

        I enjoyed reading the article here by Henry and found interesting the conclusion by Henry and other as to which Sherry Frasier was drinking based on the color of the liquid and the bottle on various episodes.

        Thanks

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  6. Jonna Healey says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m fairly new to Sherry, and an old time ‘Frasier’ fan and had always wondered what he was drinking. After researching I knew that he must have been drinking some kind of dry Sherry, maybe a Manzanilla? Because of the light shade of Sherry he poured. Finding it all fascinating and hope to learn a bit more about the world of Sherry!

    Have you any website pointers or tips for somebody learning about Sherry?

    Thanks!

  7. I always thought it was funny that Frasier used such a bad coffee maker as well, a cheapo plastic thing, I would think he would have a nice espresso maker or at least a french press, they could have done a whole episode about Frasier and his insane french press process, stirring with a stainless steel chopstick, etc… the right temperature, bur grind setting… etc… maybe that would be more Niles though? Either way it could have been a great episode!

  8. Uncle Ron says:

    Color?? I never take the bottle out of the bag.

  9. Hi, Jeffreys, may name is José Luis, from Jerez (where the original sherry wne is made).
    I study the cultural relations with sherry wine. Literature, Movies, TV Serie, Art, Advert, etc.
    My blog, about sherry wine and cinema, is: jerezdecine.wordpress.com

  10. L says:

    season 10, episode 22 “Fathers and Sons,” Frasier drinks Sherry with Leland Barton and Barton asks what kind of sherry it is. Frasier responds, but I can’t understand what he says. Check it out and let me know!

  11. Tom Lewis says:

    Great piece Henry – from my recollection of the programme, Frasier always struck me as the sort of pretentious wannabe bumbling European aristo who would indeed serve Harveys Bristol Cream in a decanter and think it was the right thing to do because he was an American at heart.

    And wasn’t that always the joke with Daphne ? Genuinely European, with her ancient Greek name, she was actually a gobby, working class northerner who, had the scriptwriters let her, would also have known not to serve sherry from a decanter.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Keen eye. I always noticed the Harvey’s bottle knockoff (all I mean is that I’m sure the actors weren’t really getting drunk on real sherry so either it’s a prop that mimicks Harvey’s bottles or they fill a Harvey’s bottle with apple juice or whatever the hell they’re really drinking), Always thought it was funny because I would have expected they drink something more expensive. On a different note, there is a flaw… In one of the episodes–I think it’s the Leland Barton one (“Fathers and Sons”? I’m winging this) but not positive–Frasier mentions that his sherry is an Amontillado, yet when they pour it, it is far too light (it’s ALWAYS too light) to ever be Amontillado. Yeah, I know. It’s not a big deal, just something I noticed and thought I’d point out since someone actually wrote an article about this (really cool by the way!). :)

  14. Anonymous says:

    OK oops. Guess I should have read the other replies first because I see that Eric (and others) already touched on the subject(s) I just posted about – i.e., both the amontillado and the fact that it’s too light in color to be that. Well, I guess at least I feel good knowing I’m not the only weirdo that noticed any of this stuff. ;) Cheers to all.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Oh hang on…I must’ve had too much myself because yet another oops: I got confused between Harvey’s and Hartley and Gibson. I’m not familiar with Harvey’s. Here, unless you know where to go half across the city and aren’t lazy, they only sell 2 kinds: H&G and something cheaper. What I knew is that he drinks Hartley and Gibson in one episode–or a bottle that mimics it exactly (still think it’s a bit too random for the prop room to have such a thing but I don’t really know anything about that). I wish I knew the freakin’ episode–that might make me more credible–but it is the same color, same label, everything. (Also cheap sherry–last I remember, maybe $12 at the very most?) I’ll be back someday to post the episode if I ever come across and also actually notice it again. If I remember correctly, I don’t think it was a very “here’s the sherry bottle in your face” scene. :/

  16. sajinokami says:

    I simply typed: What kind of Sherry does Frasier drink? And here I am. Thanks for this article. Been watching the complete series on Netflix, over the last few weeks. Currently on S11E14. I have always wanted to try the fancier types of alcohol [or anything really], last thing I bought was a plum wine 2 years ago. I had maybe a glass before it went bad in my fridge. In the end, I figured I would look up Frasier and Nile’s famous Sherry, but if you have any suggestions, they would be great to hear. Think I will look up that Bristol Cream…

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  26. Wayne says:

    I watched an episode and Niles mentioned a case of Oloroso, which is probably what one would expect

  27. Michael says:

    Great article. It’s nice to hear about Frasier drinking Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. I’ll never be as much of a wine connoisseur as Dr. Crane or yourself, it seems.

    I live in Japan, where it is a little difficult to find Sherry. I recently purchased a bottle of ‘Pedro Ximenez Monteagvdo Delgado Zuleta’ (http://delgadozuleta.com/pedidos/productos2_amp5.html) . It’s definitely a thicker sherry then Bristol and some of the other sherry’s I’ve had (not that I’ve had a wide variety). Honestly, I don’t know if the thickness means that it’s a nicer sherry a cheaper one! It’s good, but I have to admit that I like the Bristol’s better.

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  29. Cheryl Meneely says:

    I am watching Frasier right now. He is drinking something with a gold coloring, on the locker room pep talk episode. ** **

  30. Frasier's Brand of Sherry says:

    The answer to the question posted here “What kind of Sherry did Frasier drink?” Is answered in Season 10, Episode 2 titled “Father’s and Sons”. In it, he is asked what type of Sherry and he replies “Andalusian”; referring to Sherry made in Andalusia, Spain.

    Hope this helps!

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