Sherry is a fortified wine made in the Andalusia region of southern Spain. Although fortified wines bearing the name of sherry are produced around the world, true sherry comes only from a demarcated region in Spain. There are three main centres of production - Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Sherry is made using the solera system of topping off older wines with the more recently made sherry, so there are no vintage sherries and the quality is consistent year after year. As with any wine, however, sherry ranges from connoisseur quality to inexpensive mass-produced versions. True connoisseur's sherries are bottled after ageing in casks, but many commercial sherries are sweetened by the addition of the juice of raisins to which grape spirit has been added.

Sherries range in colour, flavour, and sweetness.

  • Fino sherries are dry and light, and one delicate fino, manzanilla, has a hint of saltiness. These pale dry sherries develop a film of yeast culture called fior on their surface as they ferment in giant barrels called butts.
  • In some barrels, though, the layer of fior consumes all the nutrients in the wine, dies out, breaks up, and sinks to the bottom of the butt; the colour of the wine then deepens through oxidation. This gives rise to nutty-flavoured amontillado sherries of medium sweetness. Amontillados are softer and darker in colour than finos.
  • Some wines develop no fior at all and turn a deep, woody brown colour. These sweet oloroso sherries are fuller flavoured and darker than dry or medium sherries; they are aged longer and are more expensive, and are often labeled cream sherry.

Sherry can be consumed as an aperitif, or after dinner. Dry sherries are usually drunk chilled, sweet sherries at room temperature. Dry sherries are classically paired with salted almonds, olives, and anchovies, while sweet old olorosos match well with dark fruitcake or hard cheeses.

Opened bottles of sherry will keep for up to a month, so you don't have to consume the whole thing at one sitting. Which is a blessing, for sweet sherries in particular have been known to produce violent headaches when over-indulged in.

Sherry, like all alcoholic drinks made from grapes has to be supervised kosher for religious Jews (unlike alcohol from other sources which doesn't have to be made under supervision). The reasons for this are given as the same as for Kosher wine although they don't necessarily fit. But tradition is tradition.

There is one sherry that is supervised strictly Kosher under the supervision of the London Beth Din - Gonzales Byass is available in Kosher production. Note that this DOES NOT mean that it is all Kosher, but that if you look in Kosher wine shops, especially around Pesach, they will be selling this with a small logo on the label to indicate it has been made under Kosher supervision. It usually costs not significantly more than the regular production.

Sher"ry (?), n. [So called from Xeres, a Spanish town near Cadiz, x in Spanish having been formerly pronounced like sh in English.]

A Spanish light-colored dry wine, made in Andalusia. As prepared for commerce it is colored a straw color or a deep amber by mixing with it cheap wine boiled down.

Sherry cobbler, a beverage prepared with sherry wine, water, lemon or orange, sugar, ice, etc., and usually imbided through a straw or a glass tube.


© Webster 1913.

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