Sherry or Jerez is a fortified wine, meaning that a small amount of brandy (neutral grape spirit) is added to the wine in order to increase its alcohol content. A vast majority of Sherry is dry as opposed to being sweet hence taking on a fine whiskey taste.
History of sherry
Styles of Sherry wine
Fino is very dry, crispy with a pale white colour. Alcohol content is between 15-16% and it is best served chilled. It is generally made from high-acid Palomino grapes and it kept under flor (a blanket of yeast that protects it against oxidation) for the entire time it is being fortified.
Manzanilla is much lighter than Fino although the same techniques as Fino apply in its making. It is made near Sanlucar de Barrameda.
Amontillado which takes on a brown hue due to the exposure of oxidation when the flor doesn’t hold is a mildly dry sherry that is slightly darker than Fino and has an alcoholic content of about 18%.
Oloroso which means ‘scented’ in Spanish is a richer, deeper and darker wine that is aged for a longer period of time than other varieties such as Fino. Its alcohol content is between 18-20%. Although majorly dry, the sweet variety (Moscatel) is also available.
Palo Cortado is like Oloroso, only richer
Pedro Ximenex(PX) which encompasses a wide range of sweet wines from the creamy ones to those with viscosity much like motor oil.
Sherry Production Process
With time, a large layer of flor naturally occurs over the wines thanks to the climatic conditions in the area. Next in the production process is the fortification process in which neutral grape spirit is added, depending on the style and desired alcohol content. Naturally sweet wines don’t need the flor as a higher degree of fortification is required.
Once the fortification process is done, the wine is then left to ‘age’ in a solera (a collection of barrels) for at least two years. At this stage, old wine is mixed with new wine in the barrels. The final stage is filtering, stabilization, bottling and consumption.
Ultimately; selection of Sherry wine will depend on the level of viscosity, alcohol content, dryness or sweetness that you desire.