• In the production of Sherry, the grapes are destemmed and pressed, although the free-run juice is vinified separately. The vinification takes place at a fairly high temperature, giving wines with low acidity and a lot of extract. The wines are fermented to dryness and fortified only at the end of fermentation. This fortification takes place with a mixture of young wine and distilled alcohol at 95% alcohol.

    [Link to this Entry]

  • The higher quality wines are fortified to a lower degree so that a special yeast, 'flor' will grow and protect the wine from oxygen during aging.

    These are the wines destined to become finos and manzanillas, and they are characterized by the yeasty, almondy smell imparted by this aging. Manzanilla is the lightest and freshest. It develops a thick flor since it is aged in relatively cool environment. Amontillado sherry is essentially an aged fino. This is a deeper color than the finos and Manzanillas and has a more pronounced nutty aroma. The best Amontillados can be aged for 50 to 60 years. Oloroso sherry is aged completely exposed to oxygen, giving it a tangy character. This is the richest style with the most body and the deepest color. Palo Cortado is a unique style of Sherry that starts out as a fino, but the flor dies, and it finishes its aging as an Oloroso.

    Sweeter styles of sherry are obtained through the addition of sweetening wines made from the Pedro Ximenes or Moscatel grapes. The grapes are first dried on mats in the sun to concentrate the sugar. This causes the fermentation to stop before all of the sugar is used up, resulting in a sweet wine that is added after the fortification, and results in Cream sherries of various types. These are given various names: Cream, Pale Cream, East India, Brown, but these are not officially recognized types, but rather proprietary names.

    [Link to this Entry]

  • These various wines are all aged in a solera. This is the term for a system of fractional blending, where a series of barrels are used. Wine is drawn from the barrel containing the oldest blend of wines and no more than one-third of the volume of the barrel. This barrel also called the Solera is topped up with wine from the next oldest cask, and this continues until the wine in the youngest cask is refreshed with wine that has aged just one year, or Añada. Sherries are then blended, with wines of different characters being used to give complexity to the blend. It is at this point that sweetening wine and/or coloring wine is also added to the blend.

    [Link to this Entry]