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SHARE A SHERRY!

When we were kids, it was really common for adults to “have a sherry”. It was a really popular drink when you visited friends or relations or before a meal at a time when many people didn’t drink wine.

Then its popularity faded a little as different drinks became more affordable and an influx of excellent foreign wines at good prices changed the market.

But now sherry is back; its depth of flavor and warming properties are especially popular in the winter months plus there are lighter varieties which are perfect for summer. But like in the past, sherry is still a very affordable drink… in most supermarkets you can find a wide variety of fabulous quality sherries that don’t cost the earth…perhaps £6 to £8 for half a litre which would be enough to keep you going for quite a while!

Sherry is a wine made from grapes in vineyards in the far south of Spain where the mixture of heat countered by cooling breezes from the Atlantic offer a unique climate. Most of the vineyards are located within a triangle formed by traditional sherry towns such as Jerez de la Frontera, E Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlucar de Barrameda. Here the soil has a high chalk content and retains water well.

The main grapes used for sherries are Palomino, Muscat of Alexandria which is also known as Moscatel, and Pedro Ximenex.   The base wines from these grapes are then put into usually oak sherry casks where they develop a yeast based covering and then undergo a fairly complex production process.

The results are a lovely variety of sherries that can be sweet, dry and varied in flavor and depth to suit anyone’s taste and any event. Today lighter summer sherries are becoming as important as the full flavoured sweeter sherries that used to be so popular with the great aunts in our youth!

The main types of sherries are:
Fino
Fino is a very fresh and almost delicate sherry, with a light, crispy, dry and nutty flavour and with around 15% alcohol content. It needs to be treated like white wine once it has been opened and is excellent chilled.
Manzanilla
Manzanilla is similar to Fino but with its own unique flavour. It generally comes from the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda where there is a more humid environment producing slightly different grape styles. Manzanilla is another light wine, very fresh and with a slight salty tang.
Amontillado
Amontillado is a long favourite in the UK with its lovely amber colouring and deep nutty flavour. It is one of the more alcoholic wines at around  17.5 ° and it will last for longer once opened.
Palo Cortado
This wine is a mix of the styles of Fino and Amontillado, with a nutty, citrus and fairly complex feel to it.  It is growing in popularity in the UK.
Oloroso
These are darker brown-coloured fairly dry sherries, developed over many years in their casks.  The result is a complex, rich, nutty style of sherry with a slight hint of raisins. They  are quite stable and stay in good condition for a while once the bottle is opened.
PX or Pedro Ximénez
This is a very different sherry, made from air-dried grapes with fermentation stopped early by the addition of spirit.  It is incredibly sweet and raisiny, not a refreshing drink but actually great with deserts or even poured over ice cream!
Cream
The ever popular cream sherries are very commercial products that have been sweetened by the addition of other wines such as Moscatel or Pedro Ximénez. 

Like wines, there are other sherries available for real enthusiasts, and there are also increasing ideas for using sherries in recipes and in drink mixes and cocktails.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/sherry

 http://www.drinksmixer.com/cat/2290

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