[Sack (England); Vino de Jerez, Xérès (Spain); Apera (Australia)]
Real Sherry is made in and around Jerez, Spain, and only in Spain, by a complex "Solara" system where new wine is put in the top barrels of a stack of barrels and slowly works its way to the bottom as it ages. The name "Sherry" can be used only for wine from the designated Jerez region of Spain. The exception is the United States where the name can be used with a prefix, such as "California Sherry".
Sherry is made in many quality grades and prices and in several steps from dry to sweet. The photo shows dry (Fino) on the left, medium dry (Amontillado) in the center and very sweet Cream Sherry on the right. Most Cream Sherry is exported to England where sweet wines are highly appreciated.
Sherry is one of the premier wines for use in cooking and can stand in for some other fortified wines that may not be so easy to find.
For drinking, fine grades of Fino and Manzanilla should be consumed
quickly, as for regular wines, but lesser grades suitable for cooking, having
a 17% alcohol level, can be stored in a cool place away from light for
a few months.and still be good for cooking. Sweeter grades can be stored
longer than dry.
Sherry is made from white Palomino grapes, except the very sweet dessert versions which are made from Pedro Ximenez or Moscatel grapes or a blend. After full fermentation, sherry is fortified with brandy to bring up its alcohol level. It is then aged in a Solera for a minimum of 3 years. Except for the non-Palomeno desert types sherry is fairly dry, but is sweetened before bottling to a degree determined by the producer.
Types of Sherry
For each type there are numerous producers, and each may generate a somewhat different flavor and sweetness. The only way to tell exactly what a type tastes like is to taste it, and than stick with that producer if you like it. The type definitions below are a general guide.
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