Its such a shame that a wine with such diverse styles as Sherry can’t seem to capture the imagination of the wider public. From a crisp fino served as an aperitif or with tapas to a luscious dessert style Pedro Ximinez so good with blue cheese, why is it in this country it is most often encountered in a trifle.
Sherry often draws comparison with Champagne. Both are white wines produced from grapes grown in chalk soil, which gives them their distinctive characteristics. Both require very particular traditional treatment to produce their very distinctive final styles. Also, if this is not enough, both are usually enjoyed as refreshing aperitifs. Although you will find, if you are lucky enough to spend anytime in Jerez or Champagne country, that the natives will drink their wine anytime between breakfast & supper!!
Their I’m afraid the comparison ends as while Champagne seems to have it’s niche on International markets, Sherry has yet to find it’s way into the hearts of the masses.
The three main categories of Sherry are:
Fino – delicate, crisp & fresh, usually made 100% from the Palomino grape. Chilled it makes a perfect aperitif, but once opened should be consumed, as the wine will decline quickly. Manzanilla, produced from grapes grown in the Sanlucar de Barrameda area (as opposed to Jerez), is another fino style. The sea winds here provide a higher humidity and more consistent temperature and the Manzanilla Sherry has a very distinctive and attractive salty tang.
Amontillado – the best of these are fino wines that have developed with age. They are a darker amber colour, quite powerful with a lovely nutty character. Again the best are dry wines, but often the ones found on International markets are sweetened versions.
Oloroso – At their best these wines have great ageing potential. They are dry and full bodied with great complexity due to age. Some sweeter (as in dessert style) versions are also made.
Another style that does seem to have found some popularity is Pedro Ximinez. Pedro Ximinez is actually the name of the grape that produces this very sweet, dessert Sherry. PX is traditionally produced as a sweetening agent to be used in the production of the varying styles of Sherry but is now gradually giving way to less expensive varieties for this purpose and being produced in its own right – giving stunningly, powerful wines, sweet, succulent with rich ‘Christmas Pudding’ type characteristics.
Other styles not so widely available on this market, but worth looking out for and trying if you find them, would be Palo Cortado and East India.