Sherry

  (SHARE-ree)
Synonyms: Jerez, Xérès

Wine Name: Fino, Manzanilla, Manzanilla Pasada, Amontillado, Oloroso, Amoroso, Palo Cortado, Jerez Dulce

Background: Sherry is a low acid, intentionally oxidized wine made in the Andalucia area of Spain. The main grapes are Palamino (95%), Pedro Ximénez and Muscat of Alexandria. Slightly different than Port production, the grapes are fermented to dryness and then distilled grape spirits are added to bring the alcohol content to about 15-15.5% for finos, manzanilla, amontillados and to 18% for olorosos, cream and pale cream sherries. The finos and manzanillos (a fino from the area of Sanlúcar de Barrameda) age in barrels with a flor yeast that sits on top of the wine and protects the wine from too rapid oxidation and gives some flavor. If the flor yeast dies off, the wine then becomes darker due to more rapid oxidation and is classified as a amontillado or in the case of manzanillas from Sanlúcar de Barrameda it becomes a manzanilla pasada. Further aging results in bottling both as Amontillado Sherry.

Oloroso sherries are fortified to a higher percent at which flor yeast cannot survive, turn darker with more rapid oxidation and the evaporation in the solera barrel aging process can raise the percent alcohol as high as 24%. Cream and Pale Cream sherries (decolored Cream sherry) have sweetening agents such as concentrated Pedro Ximénez or even Palomino grape juice added to them. A category inbetween finos and olorosos is one called palo cortado which is a fino or manzanilla that never developed the flor yeast and thus is aged as an oloroso. It has the elegant taste of the amontillado with the heavier body and strength of an oloroso.

Fino sherries taste of almonds, green olives and Manzanilla sherries the same with some additional saltiness from proximity to the sea. Amontillados may have hints of hazelnuts, cedar and slight tones of honey. Oloroso sherries will be sweeter and have tastes of figs, other dried fruit, maple syrup and roasted nuts. Cream and Pale Cream Sherries also taste of nuts and carmel and are moderately sweet.

Classic Brands and Sources: Hidalgo, Sandeman, Gonzales Byass, Osborne, Bodegas Williams & Humbert, Bodegas M.Gil.Luque, Hijos de Rainera Pérez Marin, Bodegas Antonio Barbadillo, Pedro Romero, Harveys, Terry

Characteristics:

Fino, Manzanilla

Body – medium (-)

Acidity – low

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – low

Amontillado

Body – medium

Acidity – low

Sweetness – dry to medium (-)

Tannins – low

Palo Cortado

Body – medium to medium (+)

Acidity – low

Sweetness – medium

Tannins – low

Oloroso

Body – medium (+)

Acidity – low

Sweetness – medium (+)

Tannins – low

Cream, Pale Cream

Body – full

Acidity – low

Sweetness – sweet

Tannins – low


Wine and food pairing guidelines:
The lighter sherries pair well with low acid/savory foods while the sweeter and fuller styles do well with nuts and cheeses and sweeter desserts.

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
Finos, Manzanillas and Amontillados – many vegetables not in acidic sauces, nut breads, fish, oysters shellfish with savory sauces, paella, clam and lobster chowders, potato, broccolli and other vegetable with creamor cheese-based soups.
Palo Cortado, Olorosos – desserts with nuts, Flan, cookies, biscotti, pumpkin and sweet potato pie
Cream, Pale Cream – Pecan pie, Cream Bruleè, ice cream

Cheese Pairings:
Finos, Manzanillas and Amontillados – Gruyere, Swiss, Fontina, Emmenthal, Danbo,
Palo Cortado, Olorosos – nutty flavored cheeses such as Gruyere, Emmenthal, Swiss, Fontal, Maasdam, Cream Cheese, Neufchatel,
Cream, Pale Cream – Blue cheese, Stilton, Gorgonzola, mild Cheddar, Cambozola, Manchego, Murcia al Vino, Mahon, Fourme D’Ambert