Located in Southern Spain, within the gentle hills of Andalucia, Sherry, a fortified wine, has been perfected over centuries. It invites wine enthusiasts on an unparalleled journey of flavors and styles. A deep dive into its remarkable story, styles, and the region it hails from serves as a testament to Sherry’s enduring prominence in the world of wines.

A glass filled with history

Sherry’s fascinating journey began over 3,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest wines in the world. Its production was later refined by the Moors who ruled Spain from the 8th to the 15th century, introducing distillation techniques that set the stage for modern Sherry. With the ‘Consejo Regulador’ protecting its appellation since 1933, Sherry’s heritage and quality are preserved.

The Levante embrace: Region and climate

Sherry is exclusively produced in the ‘golden triangle’ formed by the towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María in the province of Cádiz. Nestled in the heart of Andalucia, this region is graced by the Levante and Poniente winds. The warmer, drier Levante wind sweeps from the east, contrasting with the cooler, humid Poniente from the west, shaping an extraordinary microclimate ideal for Sherry production.

The craft of production

In Sherry’s creation, the Palomino, Pedro Ximénez (PX), and Moscatel grapes play starring roles. The process begins with normal fermentation, followed by fortification using grape spirit. But the real magic happens during the aging process, where the “Solera” system is introduced. The system consists of the “criadera,” the bottom row of barrels, and the above rows called “Solera.” When wine is removed from the criadera, it is topped up by the above solera. The barrels at the very top receive the new wine of the vintage. This method creates a unique and systematic blending of wines from various ages, vintages, and styles, creating a Sherry with a complexity that is hard to rival.

The Jerez region is a tourist hot spot. (Credit: Inma Santiag, unsplash.com)

The Jerez region is a tourist hot spot. (Credit: Inma Santiag, unsplash.com)

Styles: From Bone dry to lusciously sweet

The spectrum of Sherry’s styles is broad and mesmerizing. The majority are based on the white neutral variety Palomino Fino, as sweeter wines are commonly based on Pedro Ximénez (PX) or Moscatel.


The lightest among the Sherries, it is characterized by a bright, fresh profile with almond-like nuances. It’s made from Palomino grapes and ages under a protective layer of flor yeast, which imparts unique crisp, yeasty, and salty notes.


This is a unique style of Sherry that bears a striking resemblance to Fino in terms of its light, dry character. However, Manzanilla is produced exclusively in the seaside town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, which imparts a distinct saline note to the wine. It also ages under a protective layer of flor, which gives it a refreshing tanginess and a delicate, subtly complex palate. As with Fino, it pairs perfectly with a range of tapas, seafood in particular, reflecting its coastal roots.


This Sherry begins its life as a Fino, aging initially under flor, before being fortified and subjected to an oxidative aging process. It lends Amontillado a layered character, blending the freshness of Fino with the depth and complexity of Oloroso. Its dark, amber hue and complex palate of nuts, dried fruits, and spices with hints of saline notes make it an excellent companion for savory dishes, including poultry and cured meats.


Meaning “scented” in Spanish, it lives up to its name, offering a rich bouquet of walnut, leather, and tobacco notes. It ages oxidatively, bypassing the flor yeast layer, which leads to a robust, full-bodied wine. Its depth and complexity, coupled with its dry palate, make Oloroso an ideal partner for robust meat dishes, including game and mature cheeses.


As one of the sweet Sherry styles, Cream is a luscious blend of Oloroso and sweet wine, typically made from Palomino blended with Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel grapes. Its palate is characterized by a harmonious interplay of richness from the Oloroso and sweetness from the added wine, resulting in a smooth, velvety finish. Cream Sherry is often enjoyed as a dessert wine, pairing beautifully with cakes, ice cream, and blue cheeses.

Pedro Ximénez (PX)

Made from sun-dried Pedro Ximénez grapes, this style of Sherry offers an intensely sweet, almost syrupy character. Its dark, molasses-like color is a prelude to a rich palate bursting with flavors of dried figs, dates, and chocolate. PX Sherry is an ideal dessert wine, pairing perfectly with rich puddings, chocolate desserts, and even poured over vanilla ice cream.


Straddling the line between dry and sweet Sherry styles, Medium Sherry is a blend that typically balances the crispness of Amontillado or Oloroso with the sweetness of Pedro Ximénez. Offering a semi-dry palate, it reveals a delightful harmony of sweetness and depth, making it versatile for pairing with a variety of dishes, including pâtés, blue cheeses, and fruit desserts.

The range of styles makes it an interesting and versatile companion with food.

The range of styles makes it an interesting and versatile companion with food. (Credit: Janko Ferli, unslpash.com)

VOS & VORS: The Sherry legends

Sherry isn’t just about the well-known styles. The VOS (Vinum Optimum Signatum or Very Old Sherry) and VORS (Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum or Very Old Rare Sherry) are special categories that denote extremely well-aged Sherries. They account for a very small volume and are considered to be the best wines in the region.

VOS Sherries must be a minimum of 20 years old, while VORS, the crowning glory of Sherry, is at least 30 years old. These Sherries are subjected to a rigorous tasting panel and possess unparalleled depth, complexity, and character. Sipping a VOS or a VORS is not just a taste experience but a journey through time, an ode to the craftsmanship and heritage of Sherry production. Even though they are hard to find, they will surely impress every wine lover.

Sherry distincts itself in the wine world. Its spectrum ranges from the vibrant Fino to the deeply nuanced Oloroso, and the treasured VOS and VORS. Each style tells a unique tale, a tribute to the versatility and richness of the Andalusian terroir and the mastery of its winemakers.

Discover the world of Sherry on VinoVoss and find your next favorite wine.

Peter Douglas

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