Sherries – A Different Style of Wine

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Sherries – One of the treasures of the wine world, but for a while now it has been woefully underappreciated.

Sherry is a fortified wine made from vineyards in the far south of Spain, where extreme heat—summer temperatures regularly exceed 40 ºC—is countered by cooling breezes from the Atlantic. Table wines made from here wouldn’t be terribly exciting, but the complex process of Sherry production, including the addition of spirit once fermentation is complete (fortification), results in complex, stable wines. This stability is one reason for the historical popularity of sherry: it became highly fashionable in the UK in the late 16th century, at a time when temperature controlled shipping and storage wasn’t an option.

Sherry’s popularity peaked in the late 1970s, when roughly twice as much was exported from the region than is shipped today. The region has since been through a painful contraction, but is now bouncing back, largely because of the consistently high quality of the wines that are now made here, and the fact that they offer great value for money.

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Types of Sherry Wines

FINO & MANZANILLA: These are the lightest styles of Sherry. These age, for as few as two or as many as ten years, under a layer of flor and when bottled are meant to be consumed right away. They are delicious with olives, Marcona almonds, and cured meats. With oysters, Fino and Manzanilla Sherry vie with Champagne as the greatest pairing on earth.

AMONTILLADO: When a Fino’s layer of flor fades or the wine is intentionally fortified to a high strength, it begins to oxidize and change character. This is an Amontillado Sherry or, simply put, an aged Fino. These wines have some of the salty bite of a Fino but with a darker color and a nuttier, richer finish on the palate. Amontillado Sherry is also a versatile food wine, sidling comfortably up to prawns, seafood soup, roast chicken, or a cheese plate.

PALO CORTADO: This is a strange, beautiful and less common style of Sherry that occurs in certain circumstances when flor yeast dies unexpectedly and the wine begins to take on oxygen. A Palo Cortado has some salty character, but its body is richer and more intense. Palo Cortado can behave like an Amontillado on the palate but often shows a great balance of richness and delicacy.

OLOROSO: Oloroso never develops flor. Instead, all the flavor in these wines comes from the interaction of wine and air. Usually oxidized wine is considered faulty, but when left for five to twenty-five years, the wine in a Sherry solera will develop into a full-bodied, dark and expressive substance that begs to be enjoyed with braised beef, bitter chocolate, and bleu cheese. Oloroso Sherry is aromatic and spicy, and can drink like a finely aged bourbon.

The Whisky of Wines – Sherry

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Information credits to: Wine Folly

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