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What is Sherry?

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Sherry

Sherry is a special type of Fortified Wine.

Sherry is made in and around the town of Jerez de la Frontera in south-west Spain. The main grape variety is Palomino Fino. Pedro Ximenez – often referred to as PX – is also grown and is used mainly for sweetening wines.

These base white wines are fermented to dryness before the spirit is added. The amount of spirit added affects the growth of a yeast called flor, which strongly influences the style of the wine. The yeasty flavour of flor is most evident in Fino and Manzanilla. Most sherries are between 15% and 18% alcohol by volume. Sweetness levels range from bone dry to very sweet.

Sherries are matured in what is known as the solera system, which blends wine from different vintages to create a consistent style. This sherry is generally a non-vintage wine. More recently, age-dated wines have been permitted but these are still blends of several vintages.

Styles

Traditionally drunk as an apéritif, sherry can be surprisingly versatile as a food wine, and starting at around 15% alcohol by volume, it is not much stronger than many table wines.

  • Manzanilla: Very pale, delicate, salty and crisp. Tends to be similar to Fino but lighter and even more tangy. Delicious served really chilled.
  • Fino: Pale, dry, tangy and ideal as an apéritif, with salted almonds or olives. Also very good with tapas, seafood and ham. Serve chilled.
  • Amontillado: Amber-coloured and slightly nutty. Available as a traditional dry style or sweetened to medium dry. Both work well as an apéritif. Serve at room temperature.
  • Oloroso: Dark, nutty, raisiny, full-bodied and traditionally dry, though sweetened versions are available. Good examples are complex and full of flavour. Dry styles go with olives or hard cheeses. Sweeter styles are good with desserts such as trifle, créme brûlée or chocolate cake.
  • Pale Cream: Fino sweetened by the addition of concentrated must. Serve chilled.
  • Cream: Oloroso sweetened by the addition of PX or Moscatel wine. Goes very well with rich desserts or cakes full of dried fruits such as Christmas cake or Christmas pudding.
  • Pale Cortado: an unusual and complex sherry which falls somewhere between an Oloroso and an Amontillado. Good as an apéritif but also goes very well with a wide range of cheeses. Yum.

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