Sherry is a fortified wine, made in and around the town of Jerez, Spain, and hence in Spanish it is called "Vino de Jerez," in fact the word "sherry" is an Anglicised version of "Jerez." According to Spanish law, Sherry must come from the triangular area of the province of Cádiz between Jerez, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María. In earlier times Sherry was known as sack (a rendering of the Spanish saca, meaning a removal from the solera).
Sherry differs from other wines because of how it is treated after fermentation. After fermentation is complete, it is fortified with brandy. Because the fortification takes place after fermentation, all natural sherries are dry; any sweetness is applied later. In contrast, port wine is fortified halfway through fermentation, stopping fermentation so not all the sugars are allowed to turn into alcohol and so leaving a sweet wine.
Types of sherry
- Fino ('fine' in Spanish) is the driest and palest of the traditional varieties of Sherry.
- Manzanilla is a variety of fino Sherry made around the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
- Amontillado is a variety of Sherry that has been aged first under a cap of flor yeast, and then is exposed to oxygen, which produces a result darker than fino but lighter than oloroso.
- Oloroso ('scented' in Spanish) is a variety of Sherry aged oxidatively for a longer time than a fino or amontillado, producing a darker and richer wine.
- Palo Cortado is a rare variety of Sherry that is initially aged under flor like an amontillado, but develops a character similar to oloroso, with some of the richness of oloroso and some of the crispness of amontillado.
- Sweet Sherry (Jerez Dulce in Spanish) is created when one of the preceding varieties of dry Sherry is sweetened with Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel wine. Cream sherry is a common variety of sweet sherry made from oloroso, with other varieties including pale cream sherry (made from fino) and medium sherry (made from amontillado).
See also: Sherry vinegar