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Sherry

The anglicised name of fortified wine coming from an area around Jerez.

Production is limited to a triangle of chalky land made up of three Sherry producing towns: Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

A wine is first produced, largely from the Palomino grape (this is one of the few great wine grapes of the world, which is also delicious to eat); brandy is then added to it in various quantities - depending on the style of Sherry being produced. An alcoholic content of 16% is needed for Fino"s, and 18% for Oloroso"s.

The fortified wine then rests in oak casks for up to a year in an airy bodega, before it is transferred to the solera system.

This is a series of casks graduated by age (the oldest being known as the solera). As the wine matures, up to a third is drawn off the solera, this is then replaced by wine from the next oldest batch (called the "first criadera"), which in turn is topped up with wine from the "second criadera" - and so on. Each older wine imparts its character onto the new addition.

Some of the barrels develop a flor - a white skin; these are destined to become Finos; those that inexplicably don"t are made into Olorosos.

It is important to remember, that no Sherry will be sweet in its natural state.

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