Sherry speaks to what is Sherry, types of Sherry and Sherry production.
It is stated that sherry is the English word for a Spanish phrase “vino de Jerez” and refers to a fortified wine originally made from white grapes which were grown near the town of Jerez, Spain. It was also originally known as sack from the Spanish word saca.
Wine labeled as Sherry is that which comes from a protected designation of origin known as the Sherry Triangle which is an area in the province of Cádiz between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María. It was first designated in 1933.
What is Sherry states that after fermentation is complete, Sherry is fortified with brandy. Because the fortification takes place after fermentation, most sherries are initially dry, with any sweetness being added later.
Sherry is produced in a variety of styles, ranging from dry, light versions such as finos to darker and heavier versions known as olorosos, all made from the Palomino grape.
Types of Sherry
Fino ('fine' in Spanish) is the driest and palest of the traditional varieties of Sherry. The wine is aged in barrels under a cap of flor yeast to prevent contact with the air.
Manzanilla is an especially light variety of fino Sherry made around the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Amontillado is a variety of Sherry that is first aged under flor but which is then exposed to oxygen, producing a sherry that is darker than a fino but lighter than an oloroso. Naturally dry, they are sometimes sold lightly sweetened.
Oloroso ('scented' in Spanish) is a variety of Sherry aged oxidatively for a longer time than a fino or amontillado, producing a darker and richer wine. With alcohol levels between 18-20%, olorosos are the most alcoholic sherries in the bottle. Again naturally dry, they are often also sold in sweetened versions.
Palo Cortado is a rare variety of Sherry that is initially aged like an amontillado, but which subsequently develops a character closer to an oloroso.
Sweet Sherries (Jerez Dulce in Spanish) are made either by fermenting dried Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel grapes, which produces an intensely sweet dark brown or black wine, or by blending sweeter wines or grape must with a drier variety. Cream Sherry is a common type of sweet Sherry made by blending different wines.
For others to use the word Sherry it must be preceded by the region from which it originates such as California Sherry.
Before the phylloxera infestation in 1894, there were estimated to be over 100 varieties of grape used in Spain for the production of Sherry, but now there are only three white grapes grown for Sherry-making:
Palomino: the dominant grape used for the dry sherries. Approximately 90 per cent of the grapes grown for Sherry are Palomino. As varietal table wine, the Palomino grape produces a wine of very bland and neutral characteristics. This neutrality is actually what makes Palomino an ideal grape because it is so easily enhanced by the Sherry winemaking style.
Pedro Ximénez: used to produce sweet wines. When harvested these grapes are typically dried in the sun for two days to concentrate their sugars.
Moscatel: used similarly to Pedro Ximénez, but it is less common. Sherry-style wines made in other countries often use other grape varieties.
The Palomino grapes are harvested in early September, and pressed lightly to extract the must. Only the must from the first pressing, the mosto de yema, is used to produce Sherry; the product of additional pressings is used for lesser wines, distillation and vinegar.
The must is then fermented in stainless steel vats until the end of November, producing a dry white wine with 11-12 per cent alcohol content. Storing
What is sherry states once bottled, Sherry does not benefit from further aging and may be consumed immediately, though the sherries that have been aged oxidatively may be stored for years without losing their flavor. Bottles should be stored upright to minimize the wine's exposed surface area. As with other wines, Sherry should be stored in a cool, dark place.
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