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Sherry or Port wine?

To understand the differences between Spanish Sherry wine and Portuguese Port wine firstly, we’re going to discuss a little bit about the origin of Port and then we can start comparing the process, ageing, grapes and other factors that make Sherry and Port different.

Firstly, let me introduce a little of background into Port wine, as I’ve already explained the basics of Sherry in my other post. Port is produced in the Douro valley, in the north of Portugal. Englishmen fortified the red wine to stabilize it during the long journeys when they moved the wine from Porto in Portugal to England during the war between England and France. Even though now we find white and Rose Port, the original Port was red and sweet, with Touriga nacional grape as the main grape, with many other types of grapes in smaller proportions.

There are five main differences when comparing the traditional red port with traditional Sherry:

Grapes used for Sherry and Port

Grapes can be red or white for Port. White grapes can be used, such as Malvasia, Arinto, Rabigato, Gouveio, Viosinho, and other less common grapes. However, the main grapes used are red, such as Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and other less common ones. They can use more than 50 types of grapes.

Whereas for the wine to have the D.O. Sherry, they must only use 3 white grapes, Palomino, Pedro Ximénez, and Moscatel de Alejandría. Palomino is the most common grape, comprising 95% of all vines in this wine region.

The oxidation during the Sherry ageing process causes the difference of colours in different Spanish Sherries.

Types of sherry depending on oxidation Explore la Tierra Vejer de la Frontera, Cadiz, Spain
Manzanilla Amontillado Cream

Sherry and Port Fermentation

Another difference between Sherry and Port wines  is during the fermentation process. The winemaker, in the case of the sherries made only with the palomino grape, waits until all the sugar is fermented and then they add Brandy (destilled alcohol).

On the other hand, for traditional Port and for the sweet sherries made with Pedro Ximenez grape and Moscatel grape, the winemaker stops the fermentation by adding Brandy. This kills the yeast and stabilize the wine which still contains sugar.

Nowadays you can find dry white port which still contains a slight amount of residual sugar.

White port Explore la Tierra

Sweetness differences between these two fortified wines

Therefore, this brings up another difference in the range of sweetness spectrum. While Sherry can range from extremely dry (<5g/L residual sugar) to one of the sweetest wines of the world (Pedro Ximénez), traditional port always contains residual sugar.

Alcohol content difference between Port and Sherry wine

The alcohol in Port is usually higher, ranging from 19-21%.

While Sherry depends on the style, if it ages under the biological style it is usually 15-16%, while if it underwent an oxidative stage then it can go all the way to 21%. It will depend on the age as in the older wines the alcohol concentrates more due to the “Angel’s share” (Sherry wine evaporates through the casks)

When to drink these fortified wines?

In the case of Port wine, people know it as a sipping wine, only for dessert or for an aperitif. On the other hand Sherry is one of the most versatile wines in the world, as there is a Sherry for all kinds of food, from an aperitif, main plate to a dessert.

Boquerones in vinegar tapa paired with a Sherry

tapa albufarra con palo cortado jerez sherry vejer de la frontera pueblo blanco white village Cadiz Explore la Tierra

Pairing food with Sherry Cream Vejer de la Frontera

Differences between Sherry and port Ageing

Port wine can keep ageing in the bottle, after ageing a couple of years in big tanks (non-oxidized style), or to wooden barrels first and then to the bottle (gently oxidized style), read more here. Moreover, even though most of the time they use two or more vintages, they can also be fermented with just one.

Sherry wine must age in casks in the solera system for a minimum of 2 years, most are aged longer. It also has two styles, oxidized or biological. Although, it can undergo a biological ageing first, and when the flor dies oxidative ageing. When it is bottled, it means that it is ready to be drunk. The use of solera system means that a sherry will never be made with 100% of the same vintage. The sherry is always fed with other younger sherries to always have a similar type of sherry, learn more here.

 

Single Vintage port wine Explore la Tierra
Single Vintage Port

Full day tours in Andalusia

If you are coming to Andalusia in Spain, specifically Cadiz do not hesitate to contact me. We are a tour operator company based in Vejer de la Frontera, Cadiz province, Andalusia.

Many famous travel magazines/guides, including New York Times and Lonely Planet, have named Cadiz and specifically Vejer de la Frontera and Jerez for its gastronomy and old famous cellars. We develop our own culinary food tours and cultural tours. We also design bespoke or private tours just for you, your family and friends. Contact us through our email, you can visit our website, Explore la Tierra.

We do culinary and cultural tours around Andalusia: Visit the famous white towns of Cadiz; focus on the great gastronomy like Sherry wine, Bluefin tuna, tapas tour, Iberian ham tour from Seville and Cadiz; Leather and cheese tour in the mountains of Cadiz; Hikes through the Mediterranean forest. Contact us to get more information through our mail info@explorelatierra.com, or WhatsApp to +34 722 251 790.

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