Get Ready to Enjoy Spanish Sherry – Part 2 #VPIWF

In Part 1 of this blog article I talked about where sherry is made and how it is made. In Part 2, I  cover the different styles of sherry that are produced, what food to enjoy them with, and provide you with some of my sherry tasting notes.

The main styles of sherry are:

  • Fino
  • Manzanilla
  • Amontillado
  • Palo Cortado
  • Oloroso
  • Pedro Ximenez
  • Cream
  • Pale Cream

All, but the Pedro Ximenez are made with the Palomino grape. Fino sherry are pale coloured, light bodied, and clean on the palate. This type of sherry does not last long once opened and does not age well, so it is best to drink Fino when young.  Another type of “fino”  is called Manzanilla.  It’s main difference is that it has been aged in the coastal town of Sanlucar.  It is said that this style of sherry has a salty bite to it, due to it’s coastal climate. Amontillado is an aged Fino or Manzanilla sherry which is produced after the “flor” yeast has died from the sherry, exposing the sherry to oxygen. Amontillado is in fact double aged.  It takes approximately seven years for the flor to die from the fino, then additional aging to oxidize the sherry. This style of sherry is a yellow/brown in colour and is dry with a nutty flavour caused by oxidation.

Next is Palo Cortado. It is similar to an Amontillado, in that it is produced when the flor has died, but in this case, the flor has died prematurely. The Palo Cortado is similar in aroma and flavour to an Amontillado, but is fuller bodied. An Oloroso sherry is a dry, full-bodied, brown coloured sherry that has been oxidized since being aged in barrel.  There has been no flor growth on this wine. It can have savoury, meaty or nutty flavours.  If you add a sweetener to the Oloroso, such as the Pedro Ximenez grape juice and wine, this style of sherry is called a Cream sherry. Pedro Ximenez grapes are typically used as a dessert wine produced from sun-dried grapes before they are fermented.  This provides a very concentrated flavours of grape and raisins. The last style of sherry is the Pale Cream.  This type of sherry is produced by sweetening a Fino sherry with concentrated grape juice (likely Pedro Ximenez). This will be a light coloured wine with sweet, grape flavours.

Sherry and ham, image courtesy of

What foods would you pair with these different sherries?

Fino – Enjoy the fino chilled on the patio with almonds and olives this summer.  Fino would also pair with light soups , white fish cooked lightly (no heavy cream sauce). Lobster Bisque is a classic pairing.

Manzanilla – The tanginess of this type of sherry, served chilled, should work well with most types of white fish and shell fish. Again stay away from heavy sauces.  Try with sushi.

Amontillado – slightly chilled, good with cured ham, blue cheeses (such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton) and vegetables.  Also heard that it could work well with smoked salmon (which we have plenty here in BC)

Palo Cortado – slightly chilled with lamb, grilled vegetables, any pate. Cheese souffle.

Oloroso – slightly chilled, served with smoked fish and other richer flavoured dishes like filet of beef, beef teriyaki, other braised meats, and heavy soups.

Pedro Ximenez – would be wonderful with ice cream and chocolates (In fact I have a bottle at home waiting for some ice cream and summer!)

Cream sherries being quite sweet are meant for desserts. Try with a custard.

Some of my sherry tasting notes:

  • Valdespino, Inocente Single Vineyard, Fino Sherry, NV.   Aged 7 years under flor.  Pale lemon colour.  Citrus, seasalt, pear, yeast and bread aromas.  Dry with medium acidity and pronounced body.  Seasalt, oily, crisp, yeasty, butterscotch, nutty flavours. (Tasted Aug 07)
  • Williams and Humbert, Dry Sack, Amontillado Sherry, NV.  Medium amber colour.  Pronounced oxidized nose.  Nutty, toffee, dried fruit and oak aromas.  Medium plus acidity and body.  Spices, dried fruit, apple, and oak flavours. (Tasted Aug 07)
  • Lustau, Capataz Andres, Deluxe Cream Sherry, NV.  Medium brown coloured.  Pronounced oxidized nose.  Nutty, caramel, molasses, dried fruit aromas.  Sweet. Full bodied and pronounced intensity.  Molasses, spice, toffee, dried fruit, apricot flavours. (Tasted Aug 07)
  • Lustau, Palo Cortado, NV.  Medium amber colour.  Oxidized, nutty, caramel, dried fruit, citrus and oak aromas.  Dry.  Full bodied and full flavoured.  Nutty, caramel, orange, lemon and oak flavours. (Tasted Aug 07)

Remember that there will be lots of sherry to try at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival this year!  Maybe find a new favorite summer wine with sherry? Enjoy.

If you did not read Get Ready to Enjoy Spanish Sherry – Part 1 here is the link.