The Surprising Secrets of Spanish Sherry

The Surprising Secrets of Spanish Sherry

So, you’ve found your ideal Spanish property mortgage, and what better way to celebrate than cracking open a bottle of fine Spanish sherry!  Those with a taste for the finer things in life may already be well aware that sherry comes from Spain. To be more specific, in order for a wine to be termed ‘sherry’ in European law it must come from an area known as the “Sherry Triangle” in the Cadiz province of Andalucia, between Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria. So accept no other.

Interestingly enough, the word ‘sherry’ is actually derived from Jerez, the town that has been the most famed for sherry production, and its wine-making can be traced back to the Phoenicians in the 12th century BC. In the 16th century Cadiz was sacked by Sir Francis Drake, who also made off with 2,900 barrels of sherry. After this, sherry became popular in Britain, partly for the reason that fortification made the shipping and storage of sherry easy, at a time before cooling technology was on the scene.

In recent decades sherry has lost popularity and the sherry towns of Cadiz have suffered a large reduction in exports, but wine buffs have remained loyal to the unique taste of the Andalusian wine and many predict an increase in interest at home and abroad. The important thing for these enthusiasts is said to be drinking a high quality sherry, and to find the type that is right for your particular palate.

There are three types of grape used to make sherry; palomino, Pedro Ximenez and moscatel. Palomino grapes are used to make the majority of sherries, while the latter two are mainly used for sweetening. The result is that some sherries are pale, delicate and containing a lower amount of alcohol, whereas others are dark and nutty with varying amounts of sweetness, dependent on the grapes used.  

 

Do you know your sherries?

There are seven main types:

FINO – Pale, dry, yeasty and fresh, of only about 15% alcohol.

MANZANILLO – Similar to a fino with a light and fresh taste.

AMONTILLADO – Amber coloured, nutty and complex.

PALO CORTADO – Darker than fino with some of the richness of an oloroso.

OLOROSO – Darker and richer as is aged for longer. The most alcoholic sherry and naturally dry.

PEDRO XIMENEZ – Fermentation is stopped by the addition of alcohol resulting in a sherry that is thick and sweet with a nutty aroma of raisins.

CREAM – A sweet and dark sherry often used as an after-dinner drink. First made in 19th century by blending oloroso with Pedro Ximenez.

In May the annual Feria de Jerez sherry festival is held, featuring sherry-tasting along with feasts, flamenco and horse shows. At all other times of year you can visit one of the many bodegas in the area, such as the Garvey winery with a collection of over 15,000 wine and sherry labels popular over the years. Pedro Domecq is the oldest bodega in Jerez, with a 16th century convent. The Tio Pepe owned Gonzales Byass, is the largest of the bodegas, with barrels signed by Martin Luther King and Orson Welles.

Find the best sherries served at Andalusian tapas bars and bodegas, such as Bodegas Quitapenas in Torremolinos, a traditional seafood restaurant with a range of wine and sherry. The Antigua Casa de Guardia is the oldest wine bar in Malaga and formerly the wine supplier to Queen Isabell II. El Orellana is a Malaga tapas bar with a selection of food and local wines with an authentic feel.

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