Sherry is a Fortified Wine, or is It? #WorldWineTravel

Andalucia DO wine map courtesy of

World Wine Travel Explores Andalucia
This month, our World Wine Travel writers are exploring the Andalucia region in southern Spain. Most famous for Jerez and the home of sherry, there are other wines produced here as well. We’ll have plenty of sherry finds, but count on a few surprises from our group! Cruise down further in this post for a list of links to all the other posts from our group members.

Sherry comes in a wide variety of styles, both dry and sweet

Sherry 101
Today’s post assumes a familiarity with sherry. If you are new to this wine, here are a couple of references to get you started:

Grapes were harvested late to allow this wine to naturally achieve 15%abv, just like a fortified Sherry.

What’s Old is New Again in the World of Sherry
Sherry has indeed been a fortified wine since the 1930’s when today’s protected origin (D.O. in Spain) labeling was first put in place. In fact, the regulations specifically call out a fortified wine. However, wines from the Andalucia region have a long history of aging under a veil of flor, solera based aging and other familiar techniques to the Sherry world. Working to achieve the required levels of alcohol (15% for biologic styles Fino, Manzanilla, and 17% for Amontillado and Oloroso) was seen as a higher quality approach. Fortifying by addition of a neutral grape spirit was an effective labor and time saver, eventually taking over and finding its way into the DO regulations.

In the modern era, naturally achieving these higher alcohol levels was allowed, but the wines couldn’t be labeled as sherry. As more producers embraced the return to making sherry without fortification, other regulatory changes were also proposed. These changes required negotiation, then working through the long approval process, the local D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry all the way up to the European Commission. The new regulations take effect in November 2021.

While not a sherry, Bodegas Gómez Nevado Sierra Morena Pálido En Rama Seco demonstrates an unfortified wine following the sherry production process

Bodegas Gómez Nevado Sierra Morena Pálido En Rama Seco ($14 for 375ml at South Lyndale Liquors) 15%abv
Bodegas Gómez Nevado is a winery located in the Córdoba region of Andalucia. While outside the sherry production region, they make several high quality wines using the same processes used in sherry winemaking, including aging their wines under a protective layer of flor and aging within a solera system. In addition, the Sierra Morena Pálido is produced “en rama”, meaning it is only lightly filtered compared to most typicial sherries. This leaves the wine cloudy, deeper in color with more intensity in aroma and flavor.
Eye: Medium amber, hazy
Nose: Pronounced aromas of bruised apple, dried apricots, hazelnuts, toast, cedar, acetaldehyde
Mouth: Dry, medium minus acidity, medium body, high alcohol (on the non-fortified scale), pronounced flavors, long finish. Flavors follow the aromas with additional salty notes.
Observations: Presents itself as a very high quality flor influenced wine in the en rama style. Delicious served cold with serrano ham, Marcona almonds and olives.

Manzanilla only comes from the community of Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Bodegas La Cigarrera Manzanilla ($15 for 375ml at France 44) 15% abv
For comparison, we opened a bottle of Bodegas La Cigarrera Manzanilla. Not intended to be a 1:1 comparison as the La Cigarerra is Manzanilla, typically lighter in body, aromas and flavors compared to a regular Fino sherry. Further, it is not in the en rama style. However, it is still aged biologically under a layer of flor.
Eye: Medium lemon, clear
Nose: Medium intensity aromas of fresh salt air, dried lemons, almonds, ginger
Mouth: Dry, medium minus acidity, low alcohol (on the fortified scale), medium minus body, medium flavor intensity, medium plus finish. Flavors follow the aromas with additional salty flavors.
Observations: This wine shows the subtle side of sherry from Manzanilla with less intensity overall but with a fresh salt air note in the aromas.

Typical Sherry Snacks
Sherry style wines aged under flor are delicious served very cold as an apertif with salty, briny snacks like good quality sardines, ham, marcona almonds and olives. These wines were particularly good with serrano ham and marcona almonds!

World Wine Travel Writers Explore Andalucia
There’s more to Andalucia than just Sherry, so take a look at all the great finds from our group of World Wine Travel writers linked below. Once you’ve finished, why not join our discussion? Just look for #WorldWineTravel on Twitter on Saturday Oct. 23 from 10-11am CDT, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

8 Responses to “Sherry is a Fortified Wine, or is It? #WorldWineTravel”
  1. Thanks for the 411 on the new Sherry regulations Jeff. I was unaware (though your title was a tip-off) Interesting that the fortified La Cigarrera Manzanilla and the Palido have the same abv, and your TN on the Palido is typical for Manzanillo/Fino. As I read your post I wondered if the new style wines produced in the region would be lower alcohol (The abv is the only thing I don’t love about Sherry). Did you prefer one over the other?

  2. wendyklik says:

    A very nice comparison of old v new. I would have loved to have joined you in the experience.

  3. Lynn says:

    Although I’m enjoying fortified styles of sherry, would really like to explore wines made in the sherry style without fortification. After reading all the new regulations (went back after the chat) and several articles about them, seems it was time for some changes. Like the next-generation or new blood shaking things up in various wine areas. Speedy Cioppino and BBQ ribs ;-DDD

  4. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    I had no idea about the new regulations, so thanks so much for enlightening me. It would be very interesting to do a side by side like this. I had similar questions to Martin’s as I was reading, but mostly I just now want a sherry with a snack plate!

  5. culinarycam says:

    Such a great post with so much information that was completely new to me! I always learn so much from you.

Check out what others are saying...
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  2. […] Jeff Burrows of Food Wine Click! asks Sherry is a Fortified Wine, or is It? […]

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