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Sherry is a speciality from southern Spain, which is only produced in the area around the Andalusian city of Jerez de la Frontera. This is mainly due to the unique climate of the region, where hot summer temperatures of around 40° C are tempered by the cooling breezes of the Atlantic - the perfect conditions for the cultivation of Palomino, Muscat d'Alexandrie and Pedro-Ximénez grapes, from which the base wine for Sherry is made. These grape varieties are the basis for the fresh neutral Spanish wines, which are only transformed into the finest sherries through a very elaborate ageing process.
The Solera process - high up through down-to-earthness
Like most champagnes and whiskies, sherry is a blend of different vintages. In the solera process, the wines are aged in wooden casks stacked in rows from youngest to oldest. The number of criaderas - rows of barrels - must be at least three, but can be as many as 100! Some of the wine from the bottom row is removed for further processing, and the barrels are refilled with wine from the row above. The barrels from the second row are filled up with wine from the row above, and so on.
This creates a blend of wines (also called a cuvée) that provides a bodega's recognizable wine style. There are vintage sherries - añadas - that do not go through the solera process, but they are very rare.
Flor - the flower of sherry
Sherry simply would not be possible without the creation of a layer of yeast on top of the wine in the barrels. This layer is called flor (meaning flower or blossom). Here, too, the climate of the so-called sherry triangle plays an important role: the flor layer forms spontaneously on the surface of the wine and serves, on the one hand, to protect the wine from oxidation. On the other hand, the fermentation process also produces a complex acetaldehyde, which gives the sherry its fruity, nutty aroma. Depending on the location of the bodega, the flor develops differently and contributes to the character of each sherry. The pile is thicker in humid coastal towns. It also gives the sherry wine a unique aroma, as the alcohol is converted into an apple-nutty acetaldehyde.
The sherry infusion - a tipple to fortify it
Sherry is "fortified" with a little brandy for two reasons. The first reason is a historical one: in the early days of merchant shipping in the 16th century, a conventional wine on a ship would spoil within a few weeks, so it was fortified by adding brandy, or even rum, to make it more durable. The fortified wine from the Jerez area was exported to Great Britain, among other places, where sherry became very popular. The second reason is also based on preservation, and that is because the addition of the high-proof alcohol kills the remaining flor yeast and prevents further fermentation. The result is a stable, complex sherry.
What types of sherry are there?
Sherry is classified by age: VOS Sherries (Very Old Sherries) are at least 20 years old, VORS Sherries (Very Old Rare Sherries) are at least 30 years old, and Añadas are vintage sherries. In addition, sherry is also described according to its characteristics:
Fino: fresh, dry, about 15 vol/%
Manzanilla: light sherry in Fino style from Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Amontillado: oxidatively matured Fino, fortified to 16 - 17 vol/%, nutty, complex with a long finish
Palo Cortado: a Fino that has lost its flavour, fortified to 17 - 20 vol/%, nutty, fresh, multi-layered
Oloroso: oxidative matured without flor, fortified to 17 - 22 vol/%, dry with full body, nutty-rosy
Pedro Ximénez: very sweet, made from air-dried grapes, fortified to 15 - 22 vol/%, thick, sweet. Spicy with notes of dried fruits.
Dining & Drinking Recommendations for Sherry
Sherry is wonderful as a classic aperitif at any time of day, and the sweeter versions are popular dessert wines, but this Spanish wine is even more versatile! A glass of Fino or Manzanilla is great with olives or salted nuts, but they are also a delight with asparagus or artichokes. An Amontillado harmonizes with salmon, pâtés or ripe semi-hard cheeses. Try an Oloroso with game or red meat. And a beef stock with a dash of sherry will be simply divine.
Serve a good sherry in a Reidel sherry glass or a nosing glass so that its flavours can develop fully. Sherry tastes best chilled, but there is no hard and fast rule for this. As a guide, you can take the following: The drier, the cooler, e.g. 7 to 9°C for a Fino and up to 14°C for a Pedro Ximénez. But feel free to experiment and enjoy the best sherry as it tastes best to you!
Buy sherry online at VINELLO
When you buy sherry at VINELLO, you have a choice of around 50 different first-class products. Besides Fino Sherry, Amontillado, Manzanilla or Pedro Ximénez Sherrys you will also find some rarities from well-known producers as well as from lesser-known bodegas. The Vinello sommeliers have put together a wide-ranging collection for you, with something for every taste - and every budget. From the popular Tio Pepe Fino from Gonzales Byass to the particularly noble Oloroso Sherry from Emilio Hidalgo: You can easily and conveniently buy top-class Sherry at Vinello.
Order dessert wines like sherry and Madeira wines easily online and enjoy our wide range of payment options. With our short delivery times, you won't have to wait long for the best sherry enjoyment either . Do you have any questions about sherry wine or other dessert wines like Malaga, Vin Santo or Ice Wine? Just use our live chat - the Vinello sommeliers will be happy to help you!
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