Bodegas Dios Baco PX and a Banana Cake (#WorldWineTravel)

Sherries range from dry to very sweet, and Pedro Ximénez is the very sweetest style of Sherry, but has incredibly complex flavors. This affordable bottle from Bodegas Dios Basco is delicious and can certainly be dessert on its own, but here it becomes a key part of the ensemble as topping for a banana cake.

I’m going to start this post with a PSA: Most Sherry wines are dry. I say this because it’s a common misconception that all are dessert wines when in reality most are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Now I’m going to completely undo that message by sharing a bottle of Pedro Ximénez, the sweetest style of Sherry.

The truth is that Pedro Ximénez, PX for short, is pretty much the sweetest style of wine, point-blank. I realize that will put many of you off right away, so admittedly, these wines aren’t for everyone. I love dessert wines though and for those of you who are with me, I highly recommended searching these out. They taste like spiced fall desserts in a glass. Specifically, for me, they taste like sticky toffee pudding/sticky date pudding, which I fell in love with while traveling around Australia and New Zealand. These wines capture that flavor in liquid form.  


Brief Sherry Basics

Sherries are fortified wines that come from Andalucía in southwestern Spain, particularly around the city of Jerez de la Frontera or simply Jerez. Sherry is a very complex category of wine with many different subcategories representing a wide range of flavors. They can broadly be divided into those that have been aged under flor (a film-like layer of yeast) and those that are aged in an oxidative style. As sherries are fortified wines, they’re all finished with the addition of a distilled spirit like brandy. They’re predominantly aged in the “Sherry Triangle” made up of the cities of Jerez, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María The main grape for most Sherry styles is Palomino, but Pedro Ximénez is named after the grape it’s made from.  Despite the dark color of many sherries, the grapes are actually white and the color comes from oxidative aging.

Sherry is famous for the solera system, the rather complex method used to mature the wines. This is a system of “fractional blending” in which wines at different stages of aging are blended together, which the result of combining different vintages. Each solera is made up of various criaderas, which are essentially tiers. As wine is drawn from the final tier, the barrels are topped up with wines from the next tier up, and so on. Click here or here for a more in-depth look at the solera system.

Image borrowed from

Pedro Ximénez

Most Pedro Ximénez grapes are grown in Montilla-Morilles, which has a hot climate that is better suited to the grape than some other sections of Andalucia. Here the grape accounts for about 70% of the plantings. The grapes are then taken to be aged in the soleras in the bodegas in Jerez et. al. 

It’s worth noting that Montilla-Morilles does have its own D.O., but the wines are generally not fortified.

The PX grapes are raisinated to further concentrate the sugars. As a result, the sugar levels are never below 250 g/l and often higher than 400. The wines then go through the solera system and are aged oxidatively. The resulting wines are deep, dark, and syrupy, with a silky texture that coats the glass. The wines show dried fruit flavors of figs, raisins, and dates along with flavors of nuts, coffee, licorice, and molasses, that develop further with age. At the same time, you can expect aged bottles to taste fairly similar and to keep well as they’ve been fortified and all of that sugar is a preservative.

In comparison to most grapes used for dessert wines, PX is fairly low in acid, but it manages to have just enough for balance. The added alcohol from the fortification process also helps to balance the flavor. The wines are somewhat erroneously labeled Vino Dulce Natural, even though they’re made by fortifying the must of sun-dried grapes, neither of which happens naturally.

The recommended serving temperature for these wines is about 50 to 57°F, and some producers suggest serving their wines even cooler. Serving the wines on the cooler side will help the sweetness appear less perceptible if that’s a concern, but remember that it will also mute the flavors and aromas. The flavors are decadent and intense, and a little goes a long way. Happily, the wines keep well for a couple of months once opened. 

As a quick aside, in Chile, Pedro Jiménez (as it is spelled there) is used to make Pisco as well as dry, still wines.

The Wine & Pairing: Bodega Dios Baco Oxford 1.970 Pedro Ximénez NV & a Banana Cake

The origins of Bodegas Dios Baco date back to 1765, when the original buildings were built, then in 1848 the firm that would go onto to become Dios Baco was founded, but it has changed hands several times since then. It was purchased by  José Páez Morilla in 1992, and he now runs it with his daughter Alejandra. He renovated the cellar, and today they make small-batch Sherry, as well as still wines, spirits, and vinegar.

I couldn’t much on their website about the 1.970 PX (17% ABV), but elsewhere I found that this is the name of their younger, core range of PX, as they have much pricier bottlings. I’ve had this bottle in “the cellar” for quite a few years now, but it does appear to still be available on the market, and Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast put recent release prices at between $18-$21 for a 500 ml bottle, which is quite an excellent value for what it is. It’s also a good 'I’ll just try this out' price point for a very good representation of the style.

On the nose, the wine smells like spiced coffee and a big mix of dried fruits – figs, apricots, prunes, dates, and sultana raisins – that have been hit with a light squeeze of orange juice. On the palate, these flavors are joined by notes of toffee, more spices, and walnuts. It is very luscious and smooth, and it does have mouth-coating viscosity, so a small pour is really all you need. 

PX wines are easily dessert on their own, or with a simple cookie or biscotti alongside. They’re also excellent pairings for dark chocolate and strong cheeses. If you do want to have a full dessert alongside it, this is one wine that holds up to the sweetest of desserts where others fail. It’s particularly good with nut-based desserts, spice cakes, and caramel flavors. PX is fantastic poured on top of ice cream – it basically tastes like rum raisin on its own. 

My mind was working in this vein when I was thinking of what to pair with this bottle. I figured I’d lean into the syrupy consistency and use it as exactly that. I found what I was looking for in a recipe for Banana Cakes with Rum Caramel in Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh. These cakes are essentially a more elegant take on banana bread with a fluffier consistency that is flavored with rum. In the recipe, they’re topped with a rum caramel sauce at the end. 

I decided to just make it as one single cake, flavored it with PX, skipped the caramel sauce completely, and just topped it with the PX. I also couldn’t resist adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream as well. The whole combo is just delicious and feels so perfect for the fall. In the days following, we’ve also been adding berries, and that has been wonderful too. I highly recommend the entire ensemble, just pour yourself a tiny taste of the wine on its own on the side so as to experience all of its flavors.

cake, banana, spice cake
Servings: 8 to 10
Adapted by: Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Banana Cake with PX

Banana Cake with PX

Prep Time: 15 MinCooking Time: 1 HourTotal Time: 1 H & 15 M
Lightly adapted from the recipe for Banana Cakes with Rum Caramel from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh


  • 7 Tbsp/ 100 grams unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
  • ⅓ cup/ 70 g granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup/ 70 g light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tbsp /110 g self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting (see note*)
  • 1 cup/ 100 g almond meal (almond flour also works)
  • 2 Tbsp buttermilk powder
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ½ - 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 2 to 3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (8 oz/230 g)
  • ⅓ cup plus 2 tbsp/100 g sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp Pedro Ximénez or other dark dessert wine
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform bundt pan, dust with flour, and set aside.
  2. Place the butter and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until light but not too fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract. Beat for another minute to combine.
  3. Sift the flour, almond meal, buttermilk powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda into a large bowl; if not all the almond meal makes it through the sieve, it’s okay to tip it in. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  4. Place the mashed bananas in a separate bowl with sour cream and PX. Mix well, then add a quarter of this to the butter-sugar mixture, beating on low speed to incorporate. Add a quarter of the dry ingredients, and continue to alternate between the wet and dry ingredients until everything is combined.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the from the oven and set aside until completely cool, then unmold onto a platter. Sprinkle with powdered sugar using a mesh strainer.
  6. Serve each piece with PX drizzled on top, and with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.


  • If you don’t have self-rising flour, add 1 tsp baking powder and an extra pinch of salt.
  • The original recipe calls 6 individual bundt pans or 7 jumbo muffin pans. I’ve used a 9-inch springform bundt pan instead, but you can certainly make individual cakes as well. 
  • The original recipe also calls for malted milk powder. I love this flavor but didn’t have any, so I substituted in powdered buttermilk, which worked well and adds a subtle tang to the cake. 
  • The cake will keep for about 5 days in an airtight container.

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @thesommstable on instagram and hashtag it #sommstable

For another PX pairing, check out  Girl Scout Cookie Pairing Party Mash Up.

The World Wine Travel blogging group (#WorldWineTravel) is exploring the wines of Andalucía this month, led by Martin of ENOFYLZ. You can read his invitation post here. Check out the rest of their posts:

Additional sources used for this post and extra reading:



  1. As always, a super informational article Nicole! I had a fortified Montilla-Morilles last winter and wow was it thick. So think in fact we didn't want to have dessert with it. Have you tried your banana bread with other sweet wines from Andalusia?

    1. It was my first time making this particular Banana Cake. However, I also happened to have a Vin Santo open and we tried that with the other day and although not from Andalusia, it also worked nicely.

  2. I love your description of PX as sticky toffee pudding/sticky date pudding in a glass Nicole. And I very much appreciate the liberties taken with the upscale banana bread recipe. More often than not, I enjoy PX over ice cream. But I love how you've bridged it here! Yum

  3. I love most sweet wines and most sherries, but I have the hardest time with PX unless I drizzle it on ice cream.

    1. Luckily it is super delicious on ice cream! Thanks Jeff


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