Sherry is a fortified wine that originates from the region of Andalusia in southern Spain. It is made from white grapes, primarily the Palomino Fino, Pedro Ximénez, and Moscatel varieties. Sherry is a versatile and complex wine, with a wide range of styles and flavor profiles to explore. From the dry and delicate Fino to the rich and sweet Pedro Ximénez, each style of Sherry offers a unique drinking experience.
The Fino Style
Fino is a dry style of Sherry that undergoes a unique aging process known as the “solera” system. This involves blending wines from different years to achieve a consistent flavor profile. Fino is pale in color and has a crisp and refreshing taste, with flavors of green apple, almonds, and a hint of salinity. It is best served chilled and pairs well with tapas, seafood, and nuts.
Fino and Manzanilla
Manzanilla is a type of Fino Sherry that is produced exclusively in the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The proximity to the sea gives Manzanilla a distinct briny character, making it the perfect accompaniment to seafood dishes. The terms “Fino” and “Manzanilla” are often used interchangeably, but technically, Manzanilla can only be called Manzanilla if it is produced in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Preserving an open bottle of Fino Sherry is simple. Due to its high acidity and alcohol content, Fino Sherry can last for several weeks after opening if properly stored. The best way to preserve it is to keep the bottle tightly sealed with a wine stopper or cork and store it in the refrigerator. This will help maintain its freshness and prevent oxidation.
The Amontillado Style
Amontillado is a unique style of Sherry that starts its aging process as a Fino but undergoes an additional step. The layer of flor yeast, which protects the wine from oxidation, is intentionally broken, exposing the wine to oxygen. This results in a darker color and a richer, nuttier flavor profile. Amontillado Sherry exhibits notes of toasted almonds, dried fruits, and caramel. It pairs well with cured meats, cheeses, and mushroom-based dishes.
While not as commonly known, sparkling Sherry exists and can be enjoyed in the same way as sparkling wine. Sparkling Sherry is made by adding carbon dioxide to the wine through a secondary fermentation process. It is typically lighter in style and can be enjoyed as an aperitif or paired with seafood and light salads.
The Oloroso Style
Oloroso is a full-bodied and rich style of Sherry that is aged without the presence of flor yeast. This allows the wine to oxidize, resulting in a darker color, a nutty aroma, and a complex flavor profile. Oloroso Sherry often exhibits notes of roasted nuts, caramel, and spices. It pairs well with game meats, aged cheeses, and flavorful stews.
The Pedro Ximénez Style
Pedro Ximénez, often abbreviated as PX, is a sweet and luscious style of Sherry made from the Pedro Ximénez grape variety. The grapes are sun-dried before fermentation, intensifying their sweetness and concentration. PX Sherry has a thick and syrupy texture with flavors of raisins, figs, and caramel. It is often enjoyed as a dessert wine or poured over vanilla ice cream.
While Sherry is the most well-known Spanish wine, there are many other hidden gems to discover. From the robust red wines of Rioja to the fresh and vibrant whites of Rías Baixas, Spain offers a diverse range of wine styles to explore.