kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits & lifestyle writer / wine educator

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A brief Sherry primer

With all of the buzz about Spanish wines (especially those from the Priorat region--and if you haven't tried those, a good producer to start with is Onyx. It's sold at area Total Wine stores, and also appears on CityZen's menu), here is some basic information about Sherry. Ofter misunderstood, or seen as only a cooking wine, Sherry styles run the gamut from very light and dry, to heavy and sweet, with other styles in between. Experiment with a few bottles and some Spanish tapas (for a great cookbook, check out Jose Andres "Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America"), or head to one of Andres' famed DC area tapas restaurants, Jaleo.

Sherry: The Basics

  • Produced in SW Spain (Andalusia) in 3 towns: Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlucar de Barrameda
  • Made with the Palomino and/or Pedro Ximénez grapes
  • Fortified wine—neutral grape brandy is added after fermentation. (Different than port, where brandy is added during fermentation.)
  • Top producers: Gonzalez Byass, Croft, Pedro Domecq, Harvey’s, Sandelman, Osborne

Types of Sherry:

Fino: Light, dry
Manzanilla: Dry to medium-dry, (fans of Manzanilla claim the salt air of Sanlucar, where it's made, influences the flavor)
Amontillado: Dry to medium-dry
Oloroso: Dry to medium-dry, dark, full-bodied
Palo cortado: Dark, superior grade
Pedro Ximénez: Dark, sweet
Cream: Sweet