Sherry is a fortified wine originally produced in and around the town of Jerez, Spain; in Spanish it is called 'Vino de Jerez'. The town's Persian name during the Rustamid period was Xerex (Shariz, in Persian), from which Sherry and Jerez are derived.
Spanish producers have registered the names Jerez / Xeres / Sherry and will prosecute producers of similar wines from other places using the name. By law, Sherry must come from the triangular area of the province of Cadiz between Jerez, Sanlucar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria.
Sherry is made in Spain from three traditional grapes: Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel. Sherry-style wines made in other countries often use other grape varietals.
Sherry differs from other wines because of how it is treated after fermentation. Fortification takes place after fermentation, all natural Sherries are fermented dry; any sweetness is applied later. In contrast, Port wines are fortified halfway, stopping fermentation so not all of the sugars turn into alcohol, leaving a sweet wine. Sherry is first fortified with grape spirit and then if destined to be a Fino style, a yeast called 'flor' is allowed to grow on the surface of the wine to protect it from exposure to oxygen. An Oloroso style is fortified to a strength where the 'flor' cannot grow, so more exposure to oxygen occurs during ageing.
STYLES of SHERRY: - (serve slightly chilled 8-10°C)
Fino ('fine') - the driest and palest of the traditional varieties of sherry.
Manzanilla - a variety of Fino sherry made around the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda.
Amontillado - aged first under a cap of flor then exposed to oxygen, which produces a result darker than Fino but lighter than Oloroso.
Oloroso ('scented') - aged oxidatively for a longer time than Fino or Amontillado, producing a darker, richer wine.
Palo Cortado - very rare, fortified and aged without flor, it develops the richness of Oloroso and retains the crispness of Amontillado.
Pedro Ximénez & Moscatel - extremely rich sweet wines that form the preferred base for sweetening dry Sherries. They are rarely bottled on their own - though when they are Pedro Ximénez makes one of the world's best dessert style wines.