There are many varieties of Spanish sherry, below is a guide to the different types of Sherry
Types of Sherry
Fino: clear and perfectly dry, with an earthy aroma of almonds, fino is served chilled as an aperitif wine, often accompanied by nuts or tapas such as jamón serrano. Fino sherry is best drunk shortly after bottling, the top-selling brands are Tio Pepe, Gonzalez Byass and La Ina, Domecq.
Manzanilla: this is the Fino Sherry made in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It is even drier and paler than other finos, and within Spain, it outsells other dry sherries. The best-known brands are La Guita from Hijos de Rainer Perez Marin and La Gitana, Vinícola Hidalgo. Manzanilla Pasada, favoured by locals in Sanlúcar, is slightly darker, saltier and less refined.
Oloroso: The layer of yeast is thin, or absent, in this Sherry as it ages, and thus there is a partial oxidation which accounts for the wine’s darker colour. Oloroso is a rich amber, with an aroma of hazelnuts, and it makes an exceptional aperitif. It is also one of the few wines that can stand up to such difficult-to-match foods as eggs, artichokes and asparagus. The best olorosos – that is, the oldest – include the legendary Matusalém, González Byass.
Amontillados: Named after the wine-making town of Montilla in the province of Córdoba, this Sherry is often described as being mid-way between a fino and an oloroso, with some of the qualities of both. It starts out the same as a Fino, but the layer of yeast is allowed to die off. It is, therefore, darker in colour. The better ones can be extraordinary. Well known labels include Amontillado 51-1, Domecq and Amontillado del Duque, González Byass.
Palo Cortado: In Jerez, they say this is a wine that you can’t make, it just happens. It starts out as a Fino, but the yeast fails to develop. A rare treat, it has an aroma reminiscent of an amontillado, while its colour is closer to oloroso. One of the best is the 60-year-old Sibarita, Domecq.
Cream Sherry: This is a big favourite among drinkers outside Spain, especially the UK, Holland and Germany. It results when you take oloroso Sherry or fino and sweeten it. This is traditionally done by mixing in a measure of Pedro Ximenez, a naturally sweet wine, but many creams are made with fructose or grape concentrate. It makes an interesting dessert wine, and is a good companion for pâtés. The best selling brands are Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Crofts.
Pedro Ximenez, or PX: This naturally sweet wine is named after the grape variety, which is widely grown in other Andalusian wine regions. At worst it can be overly sweet and cloying, but when made and aged with care it is elegant and velvety, great with dessert and even better on its own. Gran Orden PX from Garveys is considered one of the best wines in Spain.
Brandy de Jerez: Jerez produces 90 per cent of the brandy in Spain. It is made by ageing wine spirits in casks which have previously been used to age Sherry. The spirits are not made from grapes grown in Jerez, but come from other regions, especially Extremadura, La Mancha and neighbouring Huelva. It is sweeter and more caramelised than French brandy, syrupy, warm and mouth-filling at its best. Price is a good indicator of quality.
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