It’s time to update your Spanish wine repertoire. Sherry is often misunderstood and misrepresented, and we’re here to uncover a few popular myths about this drink. So, what is sherry, exactly? Read on to discover the true facts about this Spanish drink and the fantastic aromas and flavors waiting for you. We bet you’ll be tempted to pick up a bottle of Manzanilla or Fino in addition to that bottle of Garnacha on your next trip to the wine store!
Perhaps the most common misconception about sherry is that it’s a liquor. In fact, sherry is a fortified white wine, which means a small amount of neutral spirits are added at some point of the fortified winemaking process. In sherry’s case, distilled wine is added in varying amounts before or after full fermentation, depending on the style.
Other popular fortified wines are Port, Madeira, and Marsala, each of which—like sherry—has a geographical pedigree. Port and Madeira are from Portugal, Marsala is Sicilian, but sherry comes from the “sherry triangle” in southern Spain, where it can be made in just three towns: Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa Maria, and Sanlucar de Barrameda.
Actually, a lot of sherry is dry! It can be made in various styles, from bone-dry to, yes, wonderfully sweet (see the infographic below for a run-down on the different styles). Sherry-making gets a bit complicated, but its production falls under two camps:
Whatever the style, producers today usually blend vintages using what’s called the solera system in order to get a refined, complex profile, though vintage styles can also be found.
Maybe this misconception comes from #2: thinking sherry is always a sweet wine, most people don’t go beyond pairing it with an after-dinner sweet treat. And while the sweeter Palo Cortado or Pedro Ximénez are excellent with dessert (and cheeses! Try it…), sherry’s numerous other styles make it one of the easiest and most interesting wines to pair with main courses.
The official Sherry Consejo Regulador website showcases tons of mouthwatering pairings with specific sherry styles. Lamb kebabs with Oloroso, chilled Andalusian Salmorejo soup with Fino, oysters, green olives, and sardines with Manzanilla? Book us a table!
Now that we’ve demystified the complex bottle of wonders that is sherry, take a closer look at this infographic to guide you on its styles, production, and more.