Sherry Wines

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Among the different types of fortified wines produced, sherries seem to be one of the popular choices available today. Although each fortified wine type has their own distinct qualities, they all have one thing in common in that they are all being fortified with alcohol. Aside from different factors such as the type of grape variety used, the environment that they were grown in as well as how they were processed, fortified wines such as the Sherry differ on how the process of fortification was done.

The Sherry is considered as fortified wines that came from a specific area located in and around the town of Jerez in Spain. It is usually made from the type of grape known as the Palomino Fino. The wine name of Sherry has been registered by Spanish wine producers to pertain only to the type of wines that came from this specific location and nowhere else. And to be even more specific, the Sherry, according to Spanish Law, should come from the triangular area between Jerez, Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria in the province of Cadiz.

Sherry differs from other fortified wines in the way that it is being treated after being fermented. Once the fermentation process has been completed, the sherry is first fortified with brandy up to a considered strength where the yeast used during the fermentation process can no longer grow and affect the wine. The result is a type of dry fortified wine which usually happens if the fortification of the wine is done after the fermentation process. Any kind of sweetness given for the Sherry is applied after.

Sherries are usually matured in what is known in Spain as the "solera" system. It is the practice of blending wines form different vintages in order to come up with a consistent style. What comes out is generally a non-vintage wine since wines made in different years are being mixed together. Sherries do not come only as a one specific type of fortified wine. They are also divided into different types of Sherries depending on how they are processed and how they end up. There is the Fino which is considered as the driest and the palest of all traditional Sherry varieties. This type of sherry is usually drunk right after a bottle of such wine is opened as exposure to air can affect its taste and may cause the Filo to lose some of its flavor in just a matter of hours.

Another type of sherry is the Amontillado which is distinguished by the way it was processed. First Amontillado sherries are aged first under a cap of flor yeast and then exposed to oxygen which gives it a darker tone than A Fino but a bit lighter than the Oloroso. The Oloroso sherry on the other hand is a type of sherry that has been put through a longer aging time than the Amontillado or the Fino. The Oloroso sherry comes out a richer and darker wine which has a nutty or raisiny taste.

There’s also the Manzanilla sherry is actually a variety of the Fino sherry that came from the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda. The sherry is made following the methods used in producing Fino sherries. But the sherry that comes out has the flavor reminiscent to chamomile tea, hence the name Manzanilla which is Spanish for the said tea variety. There is also the Palo Cortado sherry which is aged somewhat like the Amontillado but has qualities that are more closely related to Oloroso sherries. The Palo Cortado is a rare variety of sherry with only one to two percent of the grapes used to make sherry naturally develop into Palo Cortado. Then there is also the Jerez Dulce which is any variety of dry sherry that has been sweetened with Pedro Ximenez or Moscatel wine.