Sherry, Baby..!

Ah yes, a great hit for the Four Seasons.

Something tells me that Frankie and the boys weren’t singing about a fortified wine. That being the case let me give you a few details on the wonderful wine known as Sherry.

If you want to see where Sherry is made, you will need to go to the southwest of Spain, particularly in and around the town of Jerez. The origins date all the way back to 1100 BC when the Phoenicians introduced wine-making to the area. In the 1200s Sherry production increased significantly and a few hundred years later Europeans believed it to be the finest wine in the entire world.

Sherry trivia fact: Christopher Columbus even brought some along on his voyage to America..!

OK, what is that fortified wine phrase you read above? A wine qualifies as “fortified” when brandy is added to raise the alcohol content. Another famous fortified wine is Port; the difference between the two is when the brandy is added. For Port it is added during fermentation (adding to the sweetness) and for Sherry it is added after fermentation.

Another unique feature of Sherry production is that each year is blended with other years (vintages) in a specific manner known as the Solera System. I won’t get into details, but this blending helps maintain Sherry’s consistency from year to year.

There are five basic types of Sherry:

Manzanilla - A pale and dry variety (a type of Fino) produced in the specific location of Sanlucar de Barrameda.

Fino - the palest and driest of the varieties.

Amontillado - Made famous by E.A. Poe, a different production method yields a slightly darker and richer wine that Fino.

Oloroso - More aging and oxidation make for deeper color and more richness than Amontillado.

Cream - Can vary in color, but is a sweeter, more syrupy variety.

The last fun fact for the day, and certainly a necessary one, is what to drink this stuff from. Please refrain from guzzling from the bottle! Tradition dictates using a glass called a copita – a tulip shaped glass that can also be used for port and other aperitifs.

Now, anyone care to join me for a cask of Amontillado..?