Sherry’s not just for grannies anymore, chicas y chicos. It’s so popular they’ve given it its own week, June 2-8. Here’s all you need to know about Sherry, a Spanish fortified wine from the country that gave us paella, Don Quixote and Real Madrid.
1. Sherry gets its name from the English, who, in the 1600s, anglicized the word, Jerez, the town in Spain where Sherry is aged and sold.
2. Sherry is what’s known as a fortified wine, in other words, it starts as a base wine, and alcohol is added to it to make it stronger, or fortify it.
3. Sherry is aged in one of two ways: Sherries that are fortified to 15.5 percent alcohol develop a cap of yeast called a flor, which protects the wine from exposure to air. Sherries that are fortified to 17 percent or higher are too strong for the flor to form, so they are exposed to air and will develop a darker color.
4. There are only three grape varieties allowed in Jerez to make Sherry: Palomino, Pedro Ximenez (also known as PX), and Muscat of Alexandria.
5. Sherry can be sweet or dry, depending on the grapes used. Dry Sherries are made with the Palomino grape, while naturally sweet Sherries are made with PX or Muscat. Blended Sherries are medium-dry or semi-sweet, and are a combination of a naturally sweet Sherry with a dry style.
6. If the label says Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso or Palo Cortado, it will be a dry Sherry.
7. A Fino Sherry gets its bread dough aromas from the flor. Olorosos smell like a spicy, nutty toffee bar, while PX is packed with coffee and dried fruit aromas.
8. Pair Manzanilla and Fino with olives, nuts and Jamón Serrano. Amontillado is your best bet for spicy dishes, and if you like your food like your men (or women)–rich and sweet–PX is heavenly with dark chocolate, ice cream or blue cheese.
And because I love you so much, here’s a cocktail recipe you can make with Sherry, courtesy of the fine folks at the soon-to-open Washington, D.C. restaurant, Tico:
This spin on the Manhattan uses Sherry instead of vermouth.
2 oz Bulliet Rye
3/4 oz Pedro Xemenez Sherry
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 Dashes of Orange Bitters
Stir, and serve up in a martini glass or coupe.