sherry

Definitions

General English

Wine

  • a fortified wine produced in the Andalucía region of southern Spain and officially made in the Jerez-Xérès-Sherry and Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda DO areas. Sherry-style wines have been made elsewhere, e.g. in Cyprus, but under European Union regulations only those from the Spanish DOs can label themselves as such. Sherry is normally made from the Palomino grape variety, using the solera system. There is a wide range of styles of sherry, but they can be divided into two main types: fino, which is very dry, light in colour and taste with lower alcohol levels; and oloroso, which has oxidised to a deep brown colour and has a richer taste and higher levels of alcohol. Fino sherry is also produced in different styles with a fino amontillado (aged for five or six years and a darker amber colour with a trace of the nutty flavour of an oloroso), amontillado (aged for longer than a fino amontillado and darker and richer as a result), manzanilla (a very light and tangy fino, made in Sanlúcar de Barrameda), manzanilla pasada (an aged manzanilla that has a darker colour and richer taste) and pale cream sherry (a fino that has been sweetened). Oloroso is also made into other well-known styles of sherry including cream sherry (lower-quality oloroso that has been sweetened) and amoroso or East India sherry (oloroso that has been sweetened); in addition rayas is lower-quality oloroso used in blending medium dry sherry. Lastly, a palo cortado is a fino sherry that has been oxidised further to produce the flavour of an oloroso. During production of fino sherry, a layer of yeast builds up on the surface of the liquid in a cask; this is called the flor, which protects the wine below from oxidising (keeping it a pale colour) and introduces a tangy taste to the sherry.

Origin & History of “sherry”

Various sorts of dryish or sweetened white wine known as sack (etymologically ‘dry wine’) were imported into England in the 16th and 17th centuries. many came from Spain, and the sort made around Xerez (now Jerez) in southern Spain was called in English (in an approximation to the Spanish pronunciation of Xerez) sherris sack. before the end of the 16th century this had been reduced to sherry, which in due course came to be applied to the fortified Spanish wine that now goes by that name.
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