Category Archives: Sherry


Sherry is a fortified wine made by adding grape spirits after ferementation. The name sherry comes from the English attempt to say Jerez, the southwest coastal region of Spain where Sherry is made. Sherry comes in two basic styles, fino and olorosso. The fino style is pale colored, crisp and dry, while olorosso is much darker and nuttier, and can range from dry to sweet. The primary grape involved in sherry is Palomino, which now represents about 95% of the plantings in Jerez. It grows particularly well on the famous white, porous albariza soil found there. The differing factor in fino and olorosso is their exposure to oxygen. A fino sees no oxygen during and after fermentation since a layer of yeasty foam, called flor (pronounced floor), forms on the surface of the wine. When flor develops, it protects the fermenting wine from any oxygen. Olorosso, however, is purposefully prevented from developing a layer of flor, thus allowing oxygen to mix with the wine. Exposure to oxygen gives olorosso style Sherry it’s nutty, oxidized flavors and dark color.

Notable Facts
Most Sherry falls into either the fino category or the olorosso category. A quick guideline of the styles of sherry:

Fino – general term for sherry that has not been affected by oxygen – it is dry, crisp and tangy.
Manzanilla – Fino category – made quite close to the Atlantic and often has an almost sea salt flavor that is very distinctive. Crisp and light, Manzanillas are meant to be drunk young and chilled.
Amontillado – categorized as a fino, but is almost an in-between style. It’s a fino that’s been aged and sees slightly more oxygen, giving the wine some of the nutty characteristics found in olorossos. Can be dry or sweet.
Olorosso – aged sherry that is dark and nutty. Sometimes be a bit higher in alcohol.
Cream – sweetened olorosso, often by adding amounts of Pedro Ximenez, a sweet wine made of the same-named grape. No regulation on sweetness levels, so varies.
Pedro-Ximenez – sometimes called PX, this is a sweet, dense wine made from the Pedro Ximenez grape. Typically added to cream olorosso sherry, can also be bottled on its own or, even better, poured over ice cream.
Outside of the Jerez DO, Spanish producers are making sherry-style wines, often from Palomino or Pedro Ximenez. Although they may not carry the Jerez or Sherry label, they can be similar in style and also good values.

Wine Region:
Jerez, Spain

Common Descriptors:
Fino: dry, tangy, crisp, salty Olorosso: dark, nutty, rich

Drink Like a Founding Father this Independence Day

Back in the early days of  America, when water wasn’t always safe to drink due to lack of proper sanitation, our Founding Fathers needed to find some way to stay hydrated. Ingeniously, those clever men who brought us the Declaration of Independence also came up with a foolproof way to consume liquids without the risk of water-borne disease: alcohol. It was widely understood that alcohol killed bacterial contaminants, and while it came with its own set of risks, it was deemed much safer (and much more fun) to drink.

While distilled spirits and beer were popular choices, our Founding Fathers (especially noted connoisseur Thomas Jefferson) often turned to wine as their beverage of choice. Early attempts at planting grapes in the New World were unsuccessful, as the European grape varieties brought over by colonists were not suitable for surviving American pests and vine diseases. Therefore, imported wines were widely preferred. In honor of Independence Day, raise a glass of one of the following wines to our Founding Fathers: Continue reading Drink Like a Founding Father this Independence Day

Somme Things I Think About: Which Sherry is right for you?

Sherry is making a huge comeback in the wine world, both as a base in cocktails and as an amazing pairing for savory foods. Although typically considered a wine best enjoyed with desserts and dogged as a sweet sipper for great aunts and English vicars alike, sherry is so much more!   The wine comes in a myriad of styles, from bone dry to seductively sweet. The tricky part about this unique wine is to understand the label so that you choose a style you’ll love instead of one you’ll toss out.

Continue reading Somme Things I Think About: Which Sherry is right for you?