If penicillin can cure those that are ill, Spanish sherry can bring the dead back to life.
– Alexander Fleming
What comes to your mind when you hear the word, Sherry? Something that is sweet and dark? Some drink that shows up only on exclusive occasions before returning to the confines of the drinks cabinet, till next time.
Let’s get into it. Sherry is a Spanish fortified wine with more than 3,000 years of rich tradition to accompany. Wine when added to a distilled spirit (i.e. brandy) becomes a Sherry.
The word itself is an Anglicization of the Spanish word Xeres. The exclusivity of Sherry can be gauge from its protected designation of origin status in Europe. All the Sherry wines must legally be from the geographical region of Andalucía known, also known as the Sherry Triangle. Additionally, the words Jerez / Xérès / Sherry are registered by Spanish wine producers and anyone using them outside the production area will face legal consequences.
The thin layer of yeast placed on top of the sherry wines barrel is called Flor, it splits all wines produced by the Sherry Triangle into two principal categories.
The process starts with fermenting the must, extracted from the white grapes produced in Southwestern Spain. This is achieved by adding yeasts or pie de cuba.T his results in a young wine with an approximate 13.5% alcohol. Additionally, right after the fermentation, flor will start developing on this young wine. Flor is a thin layer of yeast on top of the sherry wine barrels. This waxy foam of layer protects the wine from air exposure and keeps the character of the Sherry intact. After that, a carefully quantified selection is made to fortify the wine by adding a distilled spirit to it.
This Sherry is brewed partially or entirely without flor i.e. Amontillado and Oloroso.
In recent years a lot of research has been put in place to decode the microbiology of sherry wine making and the impact of a flor veil on top of the Sherry wine barrels. All of this is because of the fame attained by the biologically aged Sherries.
Wine aficionados opine that to cherish the real character and blossoming taste of this wonderfully idiosyncratic wine; it’s essential to serve it with the right kind of savory food.
3 Types Of Sherries To Try.
“If it swims, serve Fino; if it flies, serve Amontillado; if it runs, serve Oloroso”
Jeremy Rockett, Marketing Director of González Byass – Spain’s most well-known sherry bodegas.
Fino in the Spanish language means refined. It is traditionally the driest and also the palest type of Sherry. It is consumed soon after the bottle is opened because air can cause them to lose their characteristic flavor in a matter of hours.
It is said by wine aficionados that no wine blends that well with savory food than a properly aged Fino Sherry. For that very reason, an ice-cold Fino is a natural companion of Tapas (wide variety of Spanish appetizers)
That’s why the cuisines and wines of Andalucía have developed a very close bond over the centuries.
Amontillado is a type of Sherry that after being aged under flor is then exposed to oxygen. It results in a Sherry that is darker in color than Fino, but is comparatively lighter than Oloroso.
Amontillado is naturally dry by nature. Although, occasionally sold with medium to light sweeteners. The sweetened Sherry cannot be labeled as Amontillado.
This type of Sherry is generally served chilled and mostly with food like chicken or rabbit. Traditionally, it is served with a thin gravy soup.
Oloroso in Spanish means scented is a type of Sherry that’s been aged for a longer period of time than Fino or Amontillado resulting in a richly blended and darker wine containing alcohol levels between 18 to 20%.
Oloroso is not for the weak hearted as they are the most alcoholic Sherries. They are also dry by nature. Just like Amontillado, more often than not Olorosos are served in a sweetened form known as Cream Sherry. However, these sweetened versions cannot be labeled Oloroso.
THE BEST BODEGAS IN JEREZ
Oxford defines bodega as a cellar or shop selling wine and food, especially in a Spanish-speaking country or area.
BODEGAS TRADICION – website
Cozy, friendly and quintessentially Spanish. Bodegas Tradicion prides itself in bottling only the most refined and fully-aged wines capable of giving sensory pleasures to its Winers and Diners.
The Bodegas Tradicion guarantees that their wines include no artificiality of chill-filtration, sulphites, cooked-wine, cold stabilization or caramel while maturing and bottling their signature wines.
The beauty of their Sherries is that they taste as good alone as they do with the right kind of dishes.
LUSTAU – website
Lustau’s origin goes way back to 1896. When, Don José Ruiz-Berdejo started operating a winery in his backyard to sell them to the bigger houses that bottled and exported the wines.
In the 19th century founder’s son-in-law, Don Emilio Lustau Ortega started expanding the business and the range of wines produced. Later in 1990, the Lustao Company was sold to Luis Caballero. That sale further allowed the company to grow and allowed it purchase six bodega buildings which were restored in 2001 and 2003 and now house all of the Lustau Wines.
Lustau markets as many as 40 different wines found within 8 categories and ranges. They are particularly famous in foreign markets i.e. the USA.
SANDEMAN – website
Despite its increasing popularity, experts believe that wine tourism movement is only operating at 20% of its projected potential and can easily be double in the near future. It can be said that SANDEMAN is playing its significant role even in that 20% wine tourism.
A crucial factor escalating the movement is wine roads, through wine-producing regions and through the major spring event of Open Cellars which attracts millions of tourists.
These Sherry Wine Tours in Jerez offers an opportunity to see how and where wine is made and can also spot the difference by tasting it at its source.
These tours also offer visitors an opportunity to get to know about the traditions and culture blended into wine making and the country life.
One can say that while the primary focus of the tourists is on tasting sensuous Sherries they also, subconsciously discover the uniqueness and scenic locales of Spain.
To conclude proverbially in Spanish,
Friends and wine should be old.