Ellen Wallace is longtime international news journalist and the author of the popular book Vineglorious! Switzerland's Wondrous World of Wines. She writes regularly about European wines and travel and splits her time between La Costa del Sol and the Swiss Alps. Ellen’s blog:ellenwine.com
face of sherry by Ellen Wallace
The Spanish and expats in Spain, notably the British, don’t quite share the same view of sherry - by any account a very particular wine. To the Spanish, sherry is not one wine, but several. The many types of sherry mean different ones work well with different foods and it is the rare wine that can be served with every course of a generous meal. But for anyone who grew up in a British household, sherry is likely to be thought of as Gran’s tipple, not something you’d order with friends in a trendy winebar or restaurant.
nter 21st century sherry, and we’re all – Spanish included – in for a bit of rethink about these fortified (alcohol added) wines that are getting the specialists excited again after decades with little change.
Some sherry makers are refocusing on terroir, the special magic of the place where the grapes are grown, or on exploring bottle aging, with a small group of professional friends called Equipo Navazos creating an international
sensation thanks to limited edition wines. Others, starting with Diez Merito are now making vintage sherries. Traditionally, sherry is made in soleras, oaks casks, where new wine is added to old and by the time it is bottled several harvests, or vintages make up the wine.
Organic wines are another trend. The best sherries are known as some of the world’s most complex wines, a great compliment. But sherry is something of an acquired taste, so if you’ve had only two sips in your life and you thought it was odd, it’s time to give it another try.
Sherry basics Three main classifications: Fino, the driest (manzanilla, fino, amontillado) Olorosso (olorosso and palo cortado) Dulce (Pedro Ximénez, Moscatel) Three grapes: Palomino for finos and olorosos; Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel for sweet sherries Two basic styles (and scores of variations on these!) Biologically-aged wines where flor, a veil of yeasts, protects the wine from