by Chef Larry Canepa, Wine & Spirits Editor

Sherry is again gaining ground in the wine world, and it is well deserved.  I write ‘again,’ because Sherry has a long history of serving famous figures from Christopher Columbus to Shakespeare. Sherry is fashionable again because of its stellar value and food-friendly behavior.

Fundamentally, Sherry is a fortified wine, produced in Analucia, Spain in the Jerez-de la Frontera region.  Along with Porto and Madeira, Sherry is considered one of the three great fortified wines. Sherries range broadly in color, flavor, and sweetness, but fundamentally there are two types- fino and oloroso.

Spanish Sherry is made primarily from the Palomino grape along with small amounts of Pedro Ximénez  (PX for short) and Moscatel. The soil in this region is chalky, limestone based, and provides the perfect conditions for growing the Palomino and PX grapes that are used in making the world’s finest Sherries. Once harvested and fermented, the wines fate is then decided. Will it become a Fino or an Oloroso?

Fino is very dry with a lighter-body while Oloroso is still dry, but much richer in both flavor and body. If the winemaker is going for Fino, alcohol is added (fortification) until it reaches just over 15% alcohol content. If Oloroso is the goal, then alcohol is added to reach 18%. The alcohol content is important for reasons beyond the obvious. Because of its lower content, Finos allow a layer of yeast to coat the top where the wine meets the air. This enables a coating called “flor” to form and controls the oxidizing process. Olorosos on the other hand do not support the forming of the coating due to their higher alcohol content prodcing a darker, richer wine.

Generally, Sherries are non-vintage and the quality is consistent year after year. This is because Sherry wines must go through a solera system for adequate aging. This system is essentially a blending system of casks that hold wines of different ages. The oldest casks of Sherry are the ones that are bottled in a given year. This process lets the old wines infuse the younger wines with character, while the younger wines give their nutrients to the older wines. It’s the ultimate mentoring system.


Member’s Links:

Members of Into the Soup can access more information on Sherry by signing in and clicking the links below:

Types of Sherry – A quick guide to the finer types of Sherry

Serving ans Storage – Advice on the best ways to manage your Sherry

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About Chef Larry Canepa

Chef Larry Canepa brings  30 years of Food and Wine experience to today’s adult culinary learners. He has worked in the Food & Wine business as Chef, caterer, sommelier and Food and Wine educator. He has taught culinary and restaurant operation classes at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Phoenix and Le Cordon Bleu, Scottsdale. His experiences include management and operation of free-standing restaurants, hotels and resorts. Chef Larry Canepa owned and operated the full service catering business, Dinner at Eight for 10 years in the Valley, specializing in intimate private dining and wine seminars. Larry Canepa has conducted seminars and lectures on coffee, tea, wine, etiquette, cooking and service for students, adults, continuing education classes and charitable organizations.