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1A. What is Sherry?

At first glance, sherry is a fortified wine from Spain.

However, sherry is much more complex than most wine drinkers know.

Here are the basics:

  • The Sherry Triangle – the geographic area in the far South of Spain, where by law all sherry must be made. The Sherry Triangle boundaries can be roughly drawn by lines between three cities: Jerez de La Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria.

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This region has played a key role in global trade for centuries, and the tradition of fortifying wine was born of necessity, so that it would remain stable and drinkable during and after long voyages.

  • The Grapes – only three different grapes can be used to make sherry: Palomino is used for dry sherries, and Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez are used for sweet sherries. Centuries of winemaking have shown the soil and climate of the Sherry Triangle to be ideal for these particular grapes.

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  • The Rules – much like Champagne, Cognac, and Bourbon have specific rules about how they are made, likewise there are specific rules about sourcing, processes, aging, and more that are mandated by law in order to qualify as sherry. The Consejo Regulador, and industry council which is authorized and overseen by the Spanish government, is responsible for enforcement of the rules as well as promotion of the sherry industry at home and abroad.

After falling out of fashion in the mid to late 1900’s, sherry is now experiencing a worldwide renaissance as it is rediscovered by a new, younger generation of drinkers who place a high value on authentic, natural, and artisanal food and drinks.

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