Are you thinking of the grandmother’s sherry? Then you should better stop that right now because sherry is a fantastic complex beverage for any time of year, or day, or night, or meal.
Sherry is a fortified wine that must be made in the south of Spain in an area of Andalucia known as the Sherry Triangle. That’s a territory between the towns Jerez, El Puerto de Santa Maria, and Sanlucar de Barrameda. The unique soils and climate of this region are perfect for growing the three grapes that sherry is made from. These grapes are Palomino, Pedro Ximenez, and Moscatel.
There are sherry style wines from other wine regions, but technically, they cannot be named “sherry”, although they can be labelled by the style of sherry they are closest to, for instance, Fino or Oloroso. It’s like the champagne story: if it’s not produced in the Champagne region in France then it should be called sparkling wine.
How Sherry Is Produced
Just like any other fortified wine, sherry is made from the base grape spirit, which is fortified. Most of the sherries are dry. They are aged white wines that develop massive complexity due to the distinctive ageing process. There are two types of ageing sherry:
1. Flor is the natural yeast that comes from the environment and is present on the grape skins. It protects the wine from oxygen, keeping it pale and giving it a yeasty aroma and flavour. You can think about it as the magical blanket of yeast that blooms on top of the wine while it is ageing in a barrel. It slowly oxygenates the wine, so that a little bit of air can get in through that blanket and slowly develop the complex flavours.
2. Solera system. Barrels are topped up with newer wines as older wine is taken out to be bottled. This is why you can see some bottles of sherry with crazily old dates like 1842 written on them because that’s how long that solera has been going for. Of course, the amount of sherry from that year will be pretty diluted by now.
If you have ever tried sherry and you didn’t like it, that means that you haven’t found your sherry yet. This wine has an amazingly broad spectrum of drinks: there is one of the driest wines in the world, the sweetest wine in the world, and everything in between. There’s pretty much a sherry for everyone.
Styles of Sherry
Fino and Manzanilla — these are light, elegant, and lively wines, with the delicate notes of yeast from the flor layer. Fino and Manzanilla taste almost similar but Manzanilla has a kind of maritime salty edge to it. These styles of sherry are one of the driest wines in the world. They pair well with seafood olives and cheese.
Amontillado — is a Fino wine that is aged for 4-5 years. During ageing, the flor starts to die off, and wine ages in contact with the air and turning browner. The flavour profile includes nuts, dried fruits, hints of caramel. Amontillado is a delicious pairing for hard cheeses and nuts.
Oloroso sherry — is fortified to a slightly higher alcoholic degree than Amontillado and aged without a protective flor layer. It has a rich brown colour with toffee and walnut flavours. It can be dry but usually, it is sweetened with Pedro Ximenez. Goes well with Spanish ham, lamb, and other meat dishes.
Palo Cortado — is aged pretty like Amontillado style — the flor dies off, and sherry is aged oxidatively like Oloroso. The resulting spirit is rich and intense like Oloroso with crispy and fresh hints of Amontillado. Nice pairing for meat dishes and old cheeses.
Pedro Ximenez — is made from grapes that were harvested very late and dried on the sun almost turning into raisings. It is sweet, thick, and incredibly intense. The flavour profile includes dry raisings and coffee notes. Pedro Ximenez is the sweetest wine in the world, it contains 300-400 grams of sugar per litre. It’s a brilliant thing to pour over vanilla ice cream.
If you are looking for a different type of wine experience, then cherry is for you. Explore our range of sherries to experience its incredible complex taste.