Fino de Jerez is the youngest (usually 3-5 years old) and the driest of Sherries. They age under a layer of Flor (yeast). This layer of Flor protects the wine from being oxidized and it also consumes all the sugar in the wine, creating a dry Sherry. Fino only comes from Jerez and El Puerto de Santa Maria.
Manzanilla is another dry Sherry that is just like Fino, except that Manzanilla comes only from the coastal town of Sanlúcar. Both Fino and Manzanilla have more wine salinity than the other styles. They will complement fish and shellfish.
Amontillado is an aged Fino or Manzanilla. Once the layer of Flor fades the wine begins to oxidize and takes on a new character. It can be fortified up to 18%. The color is darker and it is less briny, but nuttier and richer on the palate. These wines pair well with white meat and game.
Palo Cortado is an interesting Sherry that begins as a Fino or Manzanilla but for no known reason it unexpectedly loses its layer of Flor too soon. Once the Flor dies, the wine takes on oxygen and requires further fortification. In other words, it does “its own thing”. This wine has richness but is crisp as well.
Oloroso (‘scented’ in Spanish) intentionally never develops flor. Aging through oxidation of up to 40+ years produces a full-bodied, aromatic, dark and rich wine. Oloroso contains the most amount of alcohol in a sherry with levels of 18% to 20%. This is a great wine for hearty entrees, meats and stews.
Pedro Ximenez (PX) is an intensely sweet wine and the sweetest of the Sherries. The grapes are dried in the sun allowing the juices to concentrate prior to pressing. This is a rich wine that oozes raisins, nuts and fig.
Cream Sherry is usually a blend of Oloroso, PX or Moscatel but can come in a variety of styles. This is a semi-sweet wine that is aromatic, dark in color with classic notes of nuts and caramel.
Here are just a few of the Sherries that I tasted the other day.
If it swims… drink with Fino or Manzanilla)
If it flies… drink with Amontillado
If it walks… drink with Oloroso
Sherry is versatile and there is a style for everyone. Pair it with food, drink it as you would a favorite whiskey or explore mixing it in a cocktail. Sherry is making a strong comeback and I think it’s about time!