Styles of Sherry
There are five major styles of sherry. The flor is primarily responsible for each style’s distinct characteristics.
Fino: A bone-dry style of sherry with high acidity and almost briny flavor. The flor is left intact while the sherry is aging in the barrel, protecting the wine from oxygenation. This style of sherry is usually between 15 and 16% ABV. Fino sherries are a great starting point for anyone unfamiliar with unsweetened, traditional Spanish sherry, and they are very food friendly.
Manzanilla: Though they are produced similarly to fino sherries, manzanilla sherries are specifically made near the coastal town of Sanlucar de Barrameda. The grapes are constantly exposed to humid, coastal air, giving this style of sherry extra oceanic flavors. Think raw seafood or mackerel sashimi.
Amontillado: One of the more unique styles of sherry on the market. Producers purposefully disturb the flor during barrel-aging to promote exposure to oxygen, resulting in a deep, rich brown hue and umami-rich flavors reminiscent of sautéed mushrooms, burger drippings and almonds. Amontillado style sherries are delicious with spicy food and great in cocktails.
Oloroso: Producers fortify the wine for oloroso sherry earlier than for other varieties, killing off any existing flor and causing the wine to oxidize as it ages. Not only are oloroso sherries fortified before other sherries, they are also fortified to a higher ABV, around 17 or 18%. The higher alcohol allows the sherry to stand up to decades of barrel-aging, which results in dark, extra-rich flavors. Older oloroso sherries are some of the most expensive and sought after sherries on the market.
Jerez Dulce: Sweet sherries are made with either vine-dried pedro ximenez grapes or moscatel grapes. Cream sherries also fall into this category. They are typically made with a blend of oloroso sherry and sherry made from pedro ximenez.