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What is Sherry wine?

Sherry is fortified white wine produced from the Jerze and Montilla-Moriles area, located in the South of Spain. They have styles from dry to sweet that made it easy to pair with different dishes. However, it wonderful to drink alone.

They have been forgotten for so many years because people think sherry is a grandma’s Christmas drink with only sweet without complicity. However, thanks to the top chefs and sommeliers worldwide, they discover the beauty of fine sherry. It becomes trendy in many Metropolitan cities such as New York, London, and Madrid. 

Remember to read the knowledge base at the end. You will become an expert too.

Fino and Manzanilla

They both made from the fermented Palamino grape and ages under a layer of flor to prevent oxidation. This is called the biological aging process. After 2-5 years, the layer of flor will fade, the wine will contact with air, and the oxidation started. This is the process of stepping into Amontillado. However, in some extreme cases, the flor can survive longer, like 10-15 years. This Fino will have more flavor and complexity. To called Manzanilla, it can only be produced and matured around Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

 

Chilled fino is an outstanding wine for summer!

Amontillado

Due to the fade of the layer of flor, biologically aging will come to an end. When the fino sherry contacts the air, and the oxidation process starts. If the cellar master classifies this as Amontillado, the Fino sherry will be fortified and goes into Amontillado solera. 

 

Amontillado gains a darker color and richer flavor than Fino. While still having hints of flor, it will be less fresh and citrusy than a Fino but with more elegance and structure. You can catch the aroma like tobacco, nut, herbs, and often ethereal. On the palate, it is extraordinarily complex and intriguing. It is an excellent wine to pair with food.

Oloroso

Oloroso is aged in the absence of flor, in an oxidative way. The cellar master will select the heavier, more full-structured musts than a Fino or Manzanilla. After fermentation, the young wines are evaluated and the ones with a thicker body will be fortified to 17 or 18 degrees, and destined for maturation as Oloroso sherry. Due to evaporation, the resulting Oloroso will grow more concentrated to around 20-22 degrees. 

Oloroso sherry often shows nutty aromas (especially walnuts), combined with polished/balsamic notes, subtle dried fruits, toasted hints, tobacco, and autumn aromas. It is more full body and strength compare to Amontillado.

Palo Cortado

Palo Cortado is an intermediate type of sherry and probably the most ambiguous of all. Officially it should have the aromatic refinement of Amontillado combined with the structure and body of an Oloroso. Compared to an Amontillado, it will have spent less time under flor. Palo Cortado is selected from the Fino by the cellarmaster when they find the Fino developing a character of their Palo Cortado. It is the rarest type of sherry wine.

Cream - Medium Sweet

Cream sherry is a sweet wine made from adding Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel into Oloroso 

Pedro Ximenez

Pedro Ximénez is a name used for naturally sweet dessert wines created with the grape variety with the same name. In order to use this name, the wine has to contain at least 85% of Pedro Ximénez grapes. The grapes are either picked very ripe and/or dried in the sun to concentrate. Commonly referred to as P.X., these are intensely sweet wines, especially when the grapes are dried in the sun. An excellent sweet wine to pair with cheese and dessert, especially pour on vanilla ice cream!

Sherry Family

Dry sherry wine

Fino
Manzanilla - similar style with Fino but only produce in Sanlucar
Amontillado (Oxidation)
Palo Cortado (Oxidation)

Oloroso

Sweet (and Sweetened) Sherry wine

Cream/Medium
Pedro Ximénez (PX)
Moscatel
 
For food pairing, click there

Knowledge Database

Grape varieties

More than 95% of the grapes grown in DO Jerez-Xérès-Sherry are Palomino Fino. Pedro Ximénez (PX) and Moscatel are for making sweet wine. However, nowadays PX musts are mostly bought from the neighboring area Montilla-Moriles.

The Magic of Flor

Flor is a layer of yeast growing on the top of the wine in the barrel. It is a result of a unique terroir in Jerez. It also protects the sherry from oxidation. This is the reason why Fino wine has a unique aroma like bread, nuts, and the seaside. If the flor is healthy, it will grow thicker in summer and thinner in winter. They are alive! 

Do you know the famous Champagne grower also use Flor to age one of their Champagne!

Sherry winemaking and ageing

#Sherrylover

You will find a lot of information on the social media and web about sherry. Also stay tune on our next sherry event. See you!