How are the different types of sherry wine made
I will start by explaining the production of the most common Spanish sherry wine, dry sherry produced with the Palomino grape base wine. To make it simple, the differences between the types of sherry wine is in the ageing, “biological” or “oxidative”, and the grape juice. All Spanish sherry wines must age a minimum of two years.
If it is the juice of the first press or if it comes from the second press and which grape type. All sherry wines must be aged a minimum of two years in cask before it can be sold within the sherry triangle. The sherry triangle consists of the only three towns where sherry can be aged in the whole world. These 3 cities are Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa Maria. If you are interested in reading more about how is sherry wine made, please click here.
Since October 2022 some of the rules have changed, like the sherry triangle. Please click here to read more about the new sherry rules.
If you are interested in learning a litte more about the difference between biological and oxidative ageing in sherry wine, please watch the next video.
DRY TYPES OF SHERRY WINE: PALOMINO BASE WINE WITH BIOLOGICAL AGEING
First press, “primer yema”, is commonly used for Sherry wines that undergoes biological ageing. Biological ageing originates because the wine ages under a layer of yeast “flor”, which means flower in Spanish. “Flor” is a layer of yeast that feeds on the glycerin, proteins, sugar, alcohol of the fortified wine and stays at the top, to prevent the wine coming into contact with the oxygen.That is why these sherries that only undergo biological ageing are bone dry.
To create this layer it has to be fortified with destillled alcohol to between 15% and less than 17%. This is because the yeast dies above this, and below this the wine could turn to vinegar. They used to fortify the wine to give stability to the wine and make them able to travel.
Within this ageing process different types of sherry can be produced. Please watch the following video to understand each type of sherry wine.
Or you can keep reading and learn about the differences between each sherry wine.
The base wine of the first press is fortified to 15-16% and is always under the “flor”. It can’t be made in Sanlucar de Barrameda only in Puerto de Santa Maria and Jerez de la Frontera. You can find “fino en rama”, this fino sherry is not filtered and shows the authentic character of a fino wine. Since in Jerez de la Frontera and, in Puerto de Santa Maria (even though much less), the temperatures varied a lot and the humidity temperature is lower than in Sanlucar de Barrameda, the yeast layer is somewhat thinner. This layer may even be on the verge of breaking. This difference from manzanilla wine means that the fino sherry is not as delicate and clear as chamomile. Fino sherry has more aromas of grass and pastries.
When the fino is old enough and the flor breaks because is not receiving enough nutrients, the sherry starts oxidising, then the fino wine is called fino-amontillado sherry.
Same style as the Fino, but aged in Sanlúcar de Barrameda instead, where it ages under marine conditions, with high hummidy and lower temperature variations throughout the year. Salty winds, affecting the tasting notes of the wine. As the layer of yeast lives this climate it grows thicker, thus usually also has a lighter colour than a Fino. This sherry has its own D.O. manzanilla, it is not within the Jerez-Sherry-Xeres D.O.
Have you ever wondered what branch chamomile is? This Manzanilla wine is unfiltered and shows the authentic character of a Manzanilla wine. Chamomile has more infusion aromas such as chamomile (that’s where its name comes from), saline and lots of pastries.
Within this manzanilla sherry wine you find several types: Manzanilla fina, Manzanilla olorosa, manzanilla pasada, and manzanilla-amontillada (basically an amontillado). These types go by ages, the finest manzanilla wine being the youngest and the “amontillada” the oldest.
Palo cortado Sherry:
One of the rarest and best wines of the world. It is the pride and joy of the winemaker as years ago it had to “appear” instead of being “made”. It starts in the same way as the Fino sherry and Manzanilla. Suddenly, the layer of flor starts to die and it starts to suffer oxidative ageing, or this layer never grows.
Nowadays some winemaker in the wine cellar creates it however it will never be better than the one that just “appears”. Winemakers can make palo cortado sherry by: Breaking the “flor”; Joining two “criaderas” a fino/manzanilla and an oloroso; Or by adding fino/manzanilla to a “criadera” that has palo cortado. Then add more destilled alcohol (from grapes) increasing the alcohol to >17%, killing the flor completely.
We know that the process is similar to the amontillado sherry, but it undergoes almost all oxidation ageing, so the ageing is similar to oloroso sherry. Therefore, Palo cortado is closer to the Oloroso than to the Amontilllado in texture but it has partly, the nose of an amontillado.
It starts in the same way as the Fino and Manzanilla. After several years, when it reaches the line of barrels, solera. The winemaker will move it to the next solera system for amontillado sherry and add more destilled alcohol increasing the alcohol to >17%, killing the flor completely. After it undergoes oxidative ageing.
The best amontillados are those when the flor dies naturally after 8-10 years. The rest of the ageing time, it undergoes oxidative ageing. For me, amontillado is one of the most complexed wines as you will enjoy the best of both ageing systems, and each amontillado sherry is different from bodegato bodega. If you are love sherry amontillado sherry, please click here to read about the best amontillado sherries I recommend in my tours.
DRY TYPES OF SHERRY WINE: PALOMINO BASE WINES AGED WITH OXIDATIVE AGEING
By adding destilled alcohol over >17% to the base wine of second press juice. The flor never grows because of the high alcohol content. The oxidative ageing process changes the sherry wine colour to a dark Brown by “oxidizing” the wine.
As they oxidize there is more evaporation, therefore concentrating more alcohol, this is why you will find bottles of Oloroso sherry higher in alcohol. This is called the Angel’s share, and it happens in all those old sherries that undergo oxidative ageing.
SWEET TYPES OF SHERRY WINE
Pedro Ximenez sherry (PX):
PX grapes sun-dried to increase the density of sugar and this is then partially fermented and then fortified with destilled alcohol to ≥15% and aged by oxidation. The sweetest wine in the world together with the Australian Rutherglen Muscat with over 300g/l of residual sugar is Pedro Ximénez. Reaching up to 500g/l!
Moscatel Sherry made in a similar way to PX but used Moscatel de alejandria grapes instead. Moreover, sometimes Moscatel blends together with the other sherries, but is not common as with PX.
ADDING SWEET WINE TO DRY SHERRY WINES
Mix Amontillado or Oloroso with a sweet sherry or wine and then they can age longer together or not. The residual sugar is 5-115g/l.
Pale Cream sherry:
Fino or Manzanilla sherry mixed with a sweet wine if it is an expensive bottle, if not it can also be mixed with just grape juice made with the sweet grapes. It should really be within Medium sherry as it has less than 115g/l of residual sugar.
Mix Oloroso with a sweet sherry or wine and then age it for a bit longer together or not. The residual sugar is >115g/l.
Bristol cream sherry :
Mix of different dry sherries like Fino sherry, Amontillado sherry, Oloroso sherry with sweet PX sherry. It should really be a type of cream sherry as it has over 115g/l of residual sugar. E.G. Harveys Bristol Cream
Other types of sherries, from dry to sweet
If this blog makes you feel like you need a sherry in hand and it doesn’t fit, you may want to check out the following blogs. Click on any of the following links if you are interested in knowing my favorite sherry wines for each type of sherry.
Is your favorite sherry wine el palo cortado? If so, click here to see some of my favorites. For the amontillado sherry wine click here. If you prefer biological ageing and your favorite is manzanilla wine then click here. However, if you prefer sweet sherry wines, click here to see what I recommend within cream sherry.
On the other hand, if you want to learn more about: biological and oxidative ageing; the soleras system; and the “flower” (the layer of yeast that grows on some sherry), click here.
Full day tours in Vejer de la Frontera and Cadiz province
If you are looking for Sherry wine experiences to taste and understand even better the types sherry wine contact us. We do cultural and culinary eperiences throughout Cadiz province. I will now take advantage to show off to you the great food tours in Cadiz province that we do. Officially, Vejer de la Frontera is one of the most beautiful villages of Spain, you should come and meet us!
Sherry wine tours
If you have your own transport we can accompany you while learning about Jerez-Sherry-Xeres D.O. and Manzanilla, from the vineyard to your glass. Enjoy the best Sherry bodega tours, local culture and traditions and the local gastronomy. In case you do not have a car we can arrange transport, restaurant and the rest of your trip for you on our Ultimate Sherry wine Tasting tour. We can design a private tour just for you and your family.
Please watch the next video to see what do we do in the sherry winery tour:
If you are staying in Vejer de la Frontera or within Cadiz province we can organize a private Sherry wine tasting with local gourmet tapas for your group. I go to your place and do a Sherry wine or Andalusian wine tasting for you privately. We pair each sherry wine with a local food tapas. We can focus on premium Sherries; VORS and premium Sherries; or Andalusian wines in case you do not like Sherry wine.
If you want to learn more about Jerez de la Frontera while tasting 5 different sherries with 5 local tapas in traditional tabancos bars and enjoying a little bit of flamenco join our tabancos tour in Jerez. However our sherry & tapas tour in Cadiz or Vejer de la Frontera! Learn about 5different sherry wines, wine tastings, and how to pair it with gourmet traditional food from the area. The tour includes 5 tapas and 5 wine/Sherries.
Sherry wine love is very contagious, surely you will also become one!
Cultural and culinary food tours
If you want to learn the whole process of the Almadraba and Bluefin tuna in Cadiz province check our Bluefin tuna tour. You will learn the history of Bluefin tuna in the area since Phoenician times. You will go in a private boat ride to visit the Almadraba (if you are lucky it may be active); visit a local food market; and taste different parts of bluefin tuna in all ways, salt-dried, grilled, raw.
If you would like to visit other beautiful white villages like Vejer, we can do a tour of the white villages in Cadiz province. On the other hand we can mix a visit to a beautiful white village with a visit to an olive oil mill. Or you can choose to do a private tour that we can design especially for you based on your interests. Come and join Explore la Tierra in Vejer de la Frontera, Cadiz, Spain!
Our latest addition is our become an artisan for one day tour. Make your own cheese and your own leather souvenir in Ubrique and enjoy its great history and panoramic views. This white village is famous worldwide for its importance for the international leather companies.