Sherry is a fortified wine, made in Spain from three types of grapes: Palomino, Pedro XimÈnez, and Muscat (Moscatel). Sherry-style wines made in other countries often use other grape varieties.
Sherry differs from other wines because of how it is treated after fermentation. It is first fortified with brandy and then if destined to be fino style a yeast called flor is allowed to grow on top. Oloroso style is fortified to a strength where the flor cannot grow. (In contrast, port wine is fortified to a higher percentage of alcohol than sherry, effectively preventing the growth of any yeast.)
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA or JEREZ for short, the Scheris of the Moors, one of their fortresses in Spain, was long a walled city of great strategic importance. Today it is a busy town, and the hub of the Sherry Trade. It stands upon the main road from Seville to Cadiz, some 9 miles north of Port St. Mary at the top corner of the Bay of Cadiz and at the mouth of the Guadalete; and 12 miles east of Sanlucar, upon the left bank of the Guadalquivir, immediately before it flows into the Atlantic.
JEREZ has given its name to Sherry, the wine of Jerez (both names Jerez and Sherry being corruptions of the old .Moorish name of the town, Scheris), which Shakespeare and all Elizabethans loved and praised above all others. To the Victorians, Sherry and hospitality were synonymous: few, indeed, were then the homes without a welcoming decanter of Sherry upon the mahogany, awaiting the pleasure of your company. Today, in spite of the notorious fickleness of fashion; in spite of high taxes and of bureaucratic controls, Sherry, the wine made from the white grapes of the Jerez vineyards, still is still first favorite among all the wines imported into Great Britain.
Andalucia no longer comprises three kingdoms as it once did, nor is it any longer the great Moorish Province that it was once, but still is the richest and sunniest part of Spain, stretching from Castile, in the North, to the Straits, in the South; and from the Mediterranean, in the East, to Portugal and the Atlantic in the West.
SEVILLE the capital of Andalucia, is one of the fairest cities in the world, but sea-going ships have long ceased to come up the Guadalquivir to its once busy quays with the gold and goods of the Indies. The inexhaustible wealth of Andalucia is in its fertile soil and genial climate, its wheat, oil and wine; its oranges, figs and other fruits; its light-hearted, hard-working people.
Vines flourish and wine is made in many parts of Andalucia, but the vineyards which produce the finest and most distinctive white Spanish wine, Sherry, that which brings solace and joy to all men and women of taste and discerning thirst, are the vineyards scattered twixt Guadalquivir and Guadalete, during the last lap of their seawards run, the first reaching the Atlantic at Sanlucar de Barrameda, and the other the Bay of Cadiz, at Port St. Mary.
For the rest of this series please visit www.thewinelover.org where Michael has prepared an ebook all about sherry. There are other books in preparation and many articles all about wine and its enjoyment.