Sherry is here, it’s eager, it’s dynamic, and it’s your new partner in crime!
Looked at for years as a wine that your grandmother would likely break out during the holidays, or as a sweet after-dinner drink you would be served at some fancy Valentine’s Day dinner as a ploy to wine your love. I am here to tell you that Sherry is so much more than that! It has been hiding in the shadows, waiting patiently for its moment and I’m stoked to say, I think its time has arrived.
Sherry is a fortified wine, meaning that extra booze was added during the fermentation process. More times than not, the booze added is brandy, but any distilled spirit suffices. Born and raised in Jerez de la Frontera, a town located in the Andalusia region in southern Spain, it is produced through a crazy fractional blending method known as the Solera System. This system involves barrels stacked in a pyramid allowing the wine to transfer from the top barrel down, mixing the wines. The main grape used in sherry production is Palomino, a grape that can be found all over the world and is known for its love to suck in air (meaning oxidation).
I can see you shaking your head rambling on about how you aren’t a dessert person, with a brimming glass of Sancerre in your hand, but listen, there is a wide variety of sherries ranging from dry, savory wines that will make your mouth water to sweet treats that are perfect for those of you who are into drinking your dessert (like me). So don’t write me off just yet! Here is a guide to the sherry basics:
Fino and Manzanilla
The lightest of all the styles, these wines are the bone dry, high acid, savory ocean-water-esque types. It has a fuller, somewhat oily mouth feel and need to be paired with food. Seriously, please do me (and yourself) a favor and hit up Whole Foods, grab some Marcona almonds, Manchego cheese and garlic olives, and you will be able to die peacefully. These wines are awe-inspiring flavor enhancers and need to be treated as such! Manzanilla is very similar to Fino but has a touch more body and a nuttier flavor. Both are gateway sherries, so beware you may get hooked.
AKA an aged Fino Sherry, still a dry wine but richer than the previous styles, clad with a deeper amber color and a warm walnutty, briney aroma. These wines would be paired best with saltier snacks like anchovies, kalamata olives, and cured meats.
This full-bodied sherry with a dark deep golden color tastes like you are eating raisins and prunes while sitting by a fireplace in a ski lodge. The warming qualities are due to its higher alcohol level (usually ranging around 20%). This wine is not as delicate as the Fino Sherries, and instead is big, bold and ready, or the Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson of the sherry world.
Cream & PX
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! The wrap me up in a 6-foot-long hand-knitted scarf, fuzzy earmuffs in the snow, Drake is writing a rap song about you, sherry. These wines are sweet, decadent, syrup-like treats and more of “just a splash” kind of wine instead of a big pour. Perfect for dessert or to top off your bowl of ice cream. PX is for the person who could eat waffles with whipped cream and strawberries for every meal of the day. Named after Pedro Ximénez, this grape is dried into raisin form before being made into wine.
There are far more levels of sherry out there that we could sit here and spend hours chatting about, but this is a great place to help you fall in love. Whether you are the kind of person who craves a McFlurry or a Slim Jim, there is a sherry out there for you.