I must confess, I always thought there was only 1 kind of Sherry (I’m sure I wasn’t alone thinking this), but I have never been more wrong as there are a few more :-). Behold and feast your eyes on the different kinds of Sherry:
- Fino (‘fine’ in Spanish) is the driest and has to me the sharpest smell of them all. The wine is aged in barrels under a cap of flor yeast to prevent contact with the air. This wine is made 100% of Palomino grape and only has 1g of sugar per liter of wine (4 years aging using the Solera system). Goes well with Spanish tapas or sushi.
- Amontillado finds its existence when the “flor” from the Fino disappears and so basically the wine comes in in contact with oxygen, this will give a sherry that is darker than a Fino but lighter than an Oloroso (8 years aging using the Solera system). This sherry has much a softer aroma than the Fino and I could smell some almonds (FYI, the aroma mostly comes from the yeast). Also 100% Palomino, but already a bit stronger alcohol level of 16,5%. This goes well with white meat, fish and aged cheeses.
- Oloroso is my personal favorite (both the “dulce” and the “dry” one) and has aged in contact with oxygen for a longer time than a Fino or Amontillado, (again using the Solera system) producing a darker and richer wine. With alcohol levels between 18 and 20%. I don’t know if it is the fact the Oloroso’s are the most alcoholic Sherries is why I like them this much ;-). Goes perfect with red meat.
- Palo Cortado maybe the most unique wine of them all as initially it is aged like an Amontillado and also smells like it, but eventually gets similar character closer to an Oloroso when you taste it. This “mix” happens by accident when the flor dies, or is killed by fortification or filtration. So basically this doesn’t happen very often. Also this wine ages for 12 years using the Solera system and still using 100% Palomino grapes. Goes well with red meats.
-> Aged for 30 years. Mix of 87% Palomino and 13% PX
- Jerez “Dulce” wines (Sweet Sherries) are made either by fermenting dried Pedro Ximénez (PX) (or Moscatel grapes, but less), which produces an intensely sweet dark brown or black wine, or by blending sweeter wines or grape must with a drier variety. Like the Nectar or Noe
-> Aged 30 years. This is also the sweetest wine/sherry they have with around 400g sugar per liter.
- Cream is a common type of sweet Sherry made by blending different wines, such as Oloroso sweetened with PX. A good example of this one is the Solera or Matusalem both consisting of 75% Palomino and 25% PX grapes. Don’t worry it is not too creamy
It was an eye opener for me to find out there were so many and I know this might all seem weird, but try to put all of these sherry’s next to each other like we did during our visit and taste and compare them attentively and I’m sure you’ll understand it instantly 🙂 just like I did.
Isn’t it special that depending in which “stage” the wine is in the it will change its kind? Like It all starts with the Fino and at the moment the flor is not there anymore they speak of a Amontillado and eventually evolve into a Solera which as I mentioned before is one my personal favorites as are other Oloroso’s and Amontillado’s.
The one that was less my taste was actually the Fino. Not that it wasn’t good, its smell and taste was just too sharp for me, but it is very possible that if you put them all next to each other you’d prefer the Fino over the other ones…
I do also want to share a few anecdotes from the Bodega. The first one would be about Bodega Tio Pepe being in the Guinness book of records :-). Yes, as they have the largest weather vane in the world (48 feet tall, with an arrow 26 feet long).
Did you ever hear about the sherry mouse? The story goes that a worker from the founder Manuel Gonzales saw that a mouse was sipping and liking glass of sherry that they had forgotten in the cellar… so since that day you’ll find in that exact same spot a glass filled with sherry with a little ladder next to it specially for the “sherry mouse” being able to have their daily sip of sherry 🙂 (see pictures below)
And the last thing I want to share is that Gonzales Byass’ barrels find a very good cause after being used for making sherry, as the factory first repairs them and afterwards get send (sold) to whiskey makers in Scotland like Dalmore.
One thing is sure that I’ll be having a dinner with friends where I’ll be pairing sherry with my dishes instead of regular wine hoping they’ll become as enthusiastic as me (OK, maybe not 100% like me, but close enough 😉 ) As to my opinion sherry is a wine that doesn’t get the attention it deserves!!
Good that I said I’d keep it short 😉
I would like to thank William for telling me I had to go, Peter for helping me to get in and Oscar and Lola for teaching me and introducing me to the wonderful world of sherry!! Thank you all, both me and my fiancée learned a lot and became a big fan of sherry!!
BTW in case you Belgian readers would want to know more or even taste the TIo pepe (or other Gonzales Byass products check the following link