The Best Tablemate - Sherry

March 23, 2017

Sherry and Manzanilla come the far southwest corner of Spain.  Closer to Africa than to Madrid, the Jerez region is Spain’s oldest winegrowing region.  The names Jerez and Sherry can be traced to ‘Sherish’ the name for the Phoenician city three thousand years ago.  The winemaking of today still draws on the tradition and antiquity of the area to create a wine that is truly unique and incredibly food friendly.




Contrary to what many believe, the wines of this region are not sweet.   While Sherry can be made with the passito and hence very sweet Pedro Ximinez grape, the vast majority of Sherry and Manzanilla is bone dry.  One of the unique things about Sherry is that while there are numerous dry Sherry styles, they are all made from the same grape – Palomino.  Something magical happens to Palomino in the Sherry Triangle – the combination of the Albariza soils, blistering heat and fractional aging in solera allow Palomino to express itself in ways unimaginable in any other region.


At the most basic there are two styles of Sherry.  Biologically aged or oxidatively aged.  With biological aging the wine is protected from oxidation by a cover of special yeasts called Flor.  This Flor interacts with the wine as it ages giving it characteristic aromas and flavours.  Those wines aged without Flor come into contact with oxygen and develop characteristics of aroma and flavour based on the oxygen influence.


Biological Aging:


Manzanilla – dry, fresh and delicate on palate.  Citrus, chamomile, brine and salinity like a sea breeze.  Must be aged in the town of Sanlucar de Barrameda.


Fino  - dry and delicate, almonds, nuttiness and wild herbs. 

All Manzanilla is fino, but not all fino is Manzanilla


Amontillado –This is aged biologically until the Flor dies and then it is aged oxidatively.  Darker in colour with nuttier aromatics and flavour profile.  Hazlenut, herbs and tobacco. 


Oxidative Aging:


Oloroso – Warm with powerful wood and walnut aromatics and on palate.  This is a full-flavoured and structured wine that is rounded and full-bodied.


Palo Cortado – A wine of great complexity.  Combines the delicate elements of Amontillado with the body and palate of an Oloroso.  Palo Cortado appears in only small amounts and is a classification based on its unique style and flavour.






The five dry wines of Sherry are especially suited to food, particularly food that can be difficult to pair with wine.  Vegetables such as asparagus and artichokes, as well as vinegar-based foods can be difficult to pair successfully.  Fino and Manzanilla are particularly well-suited as the flor aging process eliminates mos