A noble drop with a golden temperament - Sherry in the store.
Sherry is not considered the mixed drink par excellence. Although Spaniards tend to drink the good stuff in combination with lemonade, it is usually consumed neat. In this way, its typical spicy aroma unfolds particularly well on the palate in combination with its fruity notes. Try one of the popular sherry varieties simply as an aperitif! In the Sherry Shop you will find a good selection - whether Fino, Cream or Oloroso. You can hardly go wrong with the selection of the delicious drop. So that you feel well advised before Se buy the sherry, read on at this point with pleasure. You will learn below interesting facts about the the sherry in the store.
Sherry varieties and production - brief overview
The Spanish city of Jerez is located in Andalusia and is the birthplace of the world-famous sherry. The fortified white wine was made famous worldwide by the English. Only wines from the triangle of cities around Jerez are allowed to call themselves sherry. The predominantly dry white wine is made from Palomino grapes and after the fermentation process is fortified with wine spirit to 15.50% alcohol by volume. Since the aging takes place in the air, with almost complete fermentation of the wine-sugar, the result is a dry final product. Depending on the type of aging, a distinction is made between Oloroso (oxidative aging without protective flor yeast) and Fino-Sherry (flor yeast protects against oxidative aging). As in rum production, the solera method is also used for blending. Here, differently selected vintages are blended together. The sherry designations refer mainly to their age, degree of oxidation and alcohol:
- Fino (the fine): Light-colored dry sherry aged without the chemical reaction under a protective layer of pile. The age, produced by the solera method, ranges from three to ten years. Alcohol content: 15-18%, drinking recommendation: 5-7 degrees before or with food.
- Manzanilla: Fino is further refined in the village of Sanlúcar de Barrameda and tastes salty and slightly bitter. Recommended drinking temperature: 5-7 degrees.
- Amontillado: Due to the death of the protective flor yeast, the oxidation of the Amontillado begins. This can be achieved by adding alcohol or by aging for 15 years (true golden Amontillado). Drinking recommendation: 12-16 degrees, depending on maturity and sugar content.
- Oloroso: Matured with an oxidative reaction, without a protective pile layer, and is more flavorful than a Fino and more complex than an Amontillado. Recommended drinking temperature: 12-16 degrees, depending on maturity and sugar content.
- Palo cortado: It is the result of a prolonged oxidation process caused by the death of the yeast of a Fino, which was originally unforeseen. Recommended drinking temperature: 12-14 degrees.
"Vinos Generosos de Licor".
- Medium: Liqueur wine made from amontillados or wines. Made by a special blending process. Drinking recommendation: 12-14 degrees, as an aperitif or with exotic foods.
- Cream: Is a semi-sweet fortified wine made from oxidative aging of mostly oloroso. Drinking suggestions: 10-12 degrees, as an aperitif on the rocks or as a dessert wine in combination with blue cheese and fruits.
- Pale Cream: A soft sherry blend of fino, manzanilla and concentrated grape must is made under a protective layer of yeast. Recommended drinking temperature: 7-9 degrees.
"Vinos de Jerez Dulces Naturales".
- Pedro Ximénez: This variety is considered quite lush and sweet. It also serves as a base to mix up many mediums and creams. Drinking suggestions: 10 - 14 degrees, it is ideal with desserts such as vanilla ice cream.
- Moscatel: Thick and chestnut colored. Rare in production nowadays. Convinces with its complex aroma. Drinking suggestions: 10 - 14 degrees, goes well with dessert or as part of a cocktail.
The Solera process in detail
From today's point of view, the original solera process differs from the current method. On average, however, it follows the same principle. The solera process is also considered indispensable in the production of brandy, Malaga or glacier wine. The solera process is spoken of for a simple reason: In the process, different stacks of barrels are stored on top of each other. The lowest row is called solera, which derives from the Latin solum (meaning bottom).
Above the bottom row are the rows called criaderas (from criadera - to raise). The barrels are numbered from bottom to top. The oldest wine is always stored in the solera row. In the course of the maturation process, this is repeatedly blended with wine from the upper criadera series. It is important to note that only one third of the total quantity is taken from each barrel. The removed part is re-filled with wine from the barrel above. Thus, the youngest wine is always mixed with an older one. Wine intended for sale always comes from the lower Sotera range.
Although the process may seem complicated, it guarantees the consistency of taste and therefore the captivating characteristics of a quality poduct. The solera also has the advantage that always fresh wine keeps the added flor yeast alive. Even if pictures of stacked barrels seem to flatter sherry enjoyment with rustic charm and flair: Modern-day bodegas produce such large quantities of the fortified wine that romance gets the short end of the stick. Today, for example, the sotera barrels are usually stored separately from the criadera barrels in different buildings.
An excursion into the history of Andalusian fortified wine
For over 3000 years, the Spanish city of Jerez can look back on its sherry tradition. Several cultures and peoples such as the Romans, the Visigoths, the Moors and Arabic peoples had a significant influence on the cultivation of wine in Jerez. It was through the English that sherry got its present name. Imported by them as booty, it quickly gained notoriety in noble circles and became the economic mainstay of Jerez. Northern European merchants settled in the region, founded companies and further developed sherry production (development of the solera process). An association founded in 1933 undertook to control the production, quality and export of the protected designation of Sherry.
A long tradition that goes back a long way
The roots of the sherry tradition lie well over 3000 years in the past. Even if this part of the story is not considered to have been handed down historically without doubt - it was probably Phoenicians in 1100 BC who came to the area around what is now Jeres. They had grapevines in their luggage. At least this is what the Greek geographer Strabon reported in the 1st century BC. Archaeological findings in the vicinity of Jerez suggest that this report corresponds to reality. From the Greeks the region received its historical name 'Xérés'.
The ancient Romans loved the white wine from Jerez
It is considered certain that a flourishing wine-growing area existed in Xérés even before the beginning of Roman rule in 206 BC. The Romans, however, exported widely. This existed throughout their reign until the year 476 A.D. The wine from the now Roman Ceres could already make a name for itself at that time. It was loved and appreciated throughout the Roman Empire. The Goths, who brought the area under their control after the Roman domination, also cultivated wine.
The Moors almost put an end to viticulture in Jerez
The year 711 A.D. marks the starting point of Moorish rule over all of what is now Spain. Their Muslim faith did not seem to provide the best basis for viticulture and the production of alcohol. However, the Moors also cultivated vines in the region, which they now called Seres. A long time rather unofficial, at least as far as the production of alcohol was concerned. The focus was on the production of raisins or alcohol for medicinal purposes.
Things could almost have turned out differently: In 866 AD, a devout caliph even ordered the destruction of all grapevines, including those in Seres. However, on the grounds of raisin production, a large part of the growing area escaped complete destruction. Citizens argued that raisins were needed to feed the soldiers in the holy war. Winegrowers could therefore breathe a sigh of relief. Behind closed doors, many Moors were probably not completely averse to alcohol consumption.
Alfonso X made wine from Jerez famous in the world
In 1264 AD, the Moorish rule came to an end. From then on, Alfonso X held the scepter of his Castilian crown over Jerez, or Xeres de la Frontera in the meantime. Times dawned that were marked by violent conflicts and wars. The cultivation of wine, however, did not suffer greatly. Alfonso X was considered a great promoter of agriculture. Viticulture became a fundamental part of the country's export. The king himself was even the owner of a vineyard. Wine from Xeres de la Frontera also became famous and popular in England: it was called Sherish.
Fat booty from Jerez: What Drake brought back from his campaign
Francis Drake invaded Cadiz on April 19, 1587. His real target was the Spanish Amada. In the meantime, Spain had been the victim of English aggression so often that it felt compelled to prepare for war against England. Drake thwarted this rebellion by destroying 37 Spanish ships in the port of Candiz. Drake did not make the return voyage to England without fat booty: he is said to have had about 300 barrels of sherry on board. In retrospect, this not only represented the triumphant victory over Spain - the wine from Jerez was immensely popular with the English royal family and nobility. Throughout England, the drink known as 'sack' boomed.
However, 'sack' is considered the precursor of today's fortified wine. The early drink is presumably very different from the latter.
The Spanish wine was also well received by popular celebrities of the time. Among its fans were the explorers Columbus and Magelan. William Shakespeare was not only considered a lover of the drink - in his writings he immortalized it in one way or another.
Britons and Scots become trade drivers - emergence of the solera process
It is not surprising that the British and the Scots quite soon began to trade in sherry officially. Some traders even moved to Jerez in the 18th century. There they professionalized the sherry production. From them may also originate one of the important production processes of the fortified wine, the so-called solera process. This was to ensure high quality of the export product. However, since many stories about the origin of the process are in circulation, this cannot be proven with absolute certainty.
The phylloxera in Jerez - the beginning of a serious sherry crisis
Sherry history is always marked by ups and downs. In 1870, the sherry trade boomed, then followed the decline. Export figures dropped and another crisis brought major cuts. The vineyards around Jerez fell victim to a troublesome pest: phylloxera. Starting in 1894, it had such a destructive appetite that no new wine could be grown in Jerez for over two years.
In the meantime, many competing products were on the market, so that trade in the tradition-steeped Spanish wine was subsequently sluggish.
Important control body that continues to exert its influence to this day
The Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Jerez-Xérès-Sherry was founded in 1933 to regulate the cultivation, production and distribution of the liqueur wine from Andalusia. In doing so, it established conditions that are still valid today. This is also the case with the Protected Designation of Origin.
Rumasa and the golden years of wine from Andalusia
Until the 40s of the last century, the sherry trade again experienced a peak, which ended with a renewed crisis. As a result of the Second World War, sales collapsed completely. The market finally recovered in the 50s. The Rumasa company expanded from 1961 and soon had so many bodegas that it could be called a monopoly. On the one hand, Rumasa undertook modernizations of sherry production, but also meant the end of many traditional bodegas. Sherry sales shot up to unimagined heights - but how could it be otherwise? Soon the nosedive began. Under the Spanish socialist government, the Rumasa company was expropriated in 1983.
the Rumasa company was expropriated and nationalized. The breakup and reprivatization took place shortly thereafter. This established the end of the previous boom of the popular spirit.
More facts for connoisseurs:
Shelf life and storage
When buying the Spanish liqueur wine should consider the not too long shelf life. No preservatives are added to it. In itself, its properties can be compared to those of wine. Unopened, it keeps for years. Young sherry varieties sometimes even continue to ripen. Once opened, however, the bottle should be stored in the refrigerator. After two to three weeks at the latest, the contents of the opened bottle should be consumed.
The following applies to the storage of closed bottles: They should be stored in a cool and dry place away from light. The cellar is ideal. Unlike wine, it does the bottle good if you put it upright. This protects the drop from advancing oxidation. This reduces the quality of the product in the long run. It is not possible to determine over the thumb how long unopened bottles will last. This depends to a large extent on the type of sherry. The shelf life varies from one year to three years.
Anything but unhealthy
Figure-conscious people hardly need to have a guilty conscience when enjoying sherry. The average of 117 calories per 100 milliliters is twice as high as that of beer. However, whiskey is considerably more lavish - it contains a good 250 calories per 100 milliliters. Fruit liqueurs, which are very rich in content, should not be mentioned here. How does it say otherwise so beautifully? You only live once! Or: enjoyment in moderation, not in masses. Ladies, however, certainly appreciate the beguiling properties of the Spanish export hit - even without gaining weight quickly.
Another healthy property of the golden spirit favorite: the drink has been proven to contain antioxidants. Antioxidants have effective properties that protect cells from damage. They also promote low cholesterol levels. So when you buy sherry, you can benefit twice!
Sherry barrels - between ancient tradition and modern process
Remarkably, there is another possible use for discarded sherry casks. According to old tradition, Scotch whiskey matures in them. The modern method of production is somewhat less romantic. In this case, barrels are filled with the Spanish fortified wine. After about a year, they are in the right condition to be used for whiskey production. The reason for this is that the import of Spanish sherry barrels is no longer permitted.
For the production of sherry barrels, unlike in earlier times, oak from Europe is no longer used. In the meantime, American oak has proven to be extremely advantageous in its use.
Particularities of the grape harvest
Even though modern technical production has not stopped in the region around Jerez, large parts of the grape harvest are still done by hand. Thus, rotten grapes can be sorted out well in advance.
By the way: Due to the high temperatures in the late summer of Andalusia, the grape harvest takes place at night. The sensitive grapes oxidize less quickly this way.
In the kitchen - versatile in use and at the same time a guarantee for enjoyment
Of course, it is possible to experiment with the different recommendations for consumption. But the Andalusian export wine holds an inestimable pleasure not only as an accompaniment to the menu. It is an obligatory accompaniment to tapas. Pure it is delicious - as a basis for a cocktail unusual, but at last the hit. Prominent it becomes as an ingredient of many dishes and sauces. Such creations make almost everyone's mouth water: Sherry cake or Spanish-style chicken breast, refined with the golden drop. Tip: Just keep your eyes open and look for nice recipe ideas. The versatile qualities of Andalusian wine cannot be understated here either.
Sherry vinegar - by-product of sherry production, but no less exquisite
For kitchen fans for whom sherry is not enough for an aperitif, there is sherry vinegar. This is also stored in oak barrels and comes from the same grapes as the fortified wine. Exclusive varieties mature in soleras for up to two years. It has at least six percent acidity. Its dark, amber color is characteristic. It is recommended to use sparingly.