Mostly known for its cooking value, Sherry has gotten a bad rep. But the truth is Sherry comes in so many shapes and sizes that it can be enjoyed in many ways. Grown in the south western area of Spain, it can be made with one or a mix of a few different grapes like Palomino (the most popular) moscadel and Pedro Ximenez. They also come in two types- with or without flor. But what is flor and why is it so important in the making of Sherry?
Flor is essential in the making of the 'Fino' sherrys. They are less sweet and more oxidized in taste and can usually be drank with or before dinner. After the wine for sherry is made and its placed in barrels to age, some air gets inside the barrel (this happens in all wine aging) but, in this small area in Spain, where the weather is extremely hot, and together with the hot winds called levante and the humidity from the Atlantic ocean a layer of yeast forms on top of the maturing wine called flor. This flor protects the wine from oxidation allowing it to age gracefully for many years. But if someones tries to make these wines outside of Jerez, the flor will not grow and sherry will not be made. Depending on the age and grapes used a few different wines can be produced- Fino, palo cortado, Amontillado and Oloroso. Fino, being the youngest is also the freshest and in Spain is enjoyed as appertif or with tapas and can even have a taste like that of a green apple or almond.
The other types of Sherry are used more for desert. All contain at least a little percentage of the grape Pedro Ximenez and one, called obviously Pedro Ximenez, is 100% of the stuff. This wine is dark, rich and syrupy, extremely high in sugar contant and probably the reason most people know of sherry. The two other PX sherrys are the Cream and Pale Cream and are the most sold overseas. PX is great with really sweet deserts and reminds us of caramel, fig jam, dried fruits and spices. It can last for years unlike the finos that once opened need to be drank shortly there after. I happen to really like PX in its pure form. It can be harder to find and a good one even harder. But if you do have the chance to try it, you'll never turn back.