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Sherry is a dry, fortified wine.  It is between pale amber and brown in tint.  The name comes from the region in which the Sherry grapes are grown, being the Jerez de la Frontera region (Jerez – Sherry), which is in Andalusia in Spain.   Unlike Champagne, a name that can still only be given to a wine with grapes from the Champagne region, the name Sherry can be applied to any of the fortified wines from Southern Spain.  In fact, even certain South American, North American and South African wines are known as Sherry.

How Sherry Is Made
Grapes are fermented, creating a wine.  Once this fermentation has taken place, brandy is added to fortify the wine.  The brandy that is used depends on the producer and the combination of this and the various grapes that are used in the fermentation process will determine a large part of the flavour of the Sherry.  
Once fortified, the wine is matured in a cask for a number of years.  Once completed, it is either very dry (palma), full and rich (raya) or in between (palo cortado).  The largest Sherry houses use Soleras reserves as the base flavouring wines.  These are incredibly fine and they are maintained for years and years.  This is done by replenishing blending wine by mixing the wine from the oldest cask to the next oldest.  

Sherry Varieties
There are various varieties of Sherry, with some of the best known ones being the manzanilla and the amontillado.  There are also various aperitif wines, which are palma in type, or the palo cortado olorose or amorose, which are quite sweet and fruity.  The raya blends are incredibly sweet and either golden or brown in colour.  There are also various dessert Sherries, which usually have a very syrupy, dark wine added to them.

Because Sherry is fortified, it contains between 15% and 23% alcohol.  The highest fortified wines are generally used for exports, with the lighter ones being kept at home.  In order for it to mature properly, it needs to age not just in the casks, but also in the bottles.  This is what makes the brandied wine mellower.  Sherry is used as a drink, but also to flavour cooking.

Many people find Sherry to be an acquired taste, but that is perhaps because it is such a mixture of various drinks and processes.  No two Sherries will ever taste the same, even if they come from the same house, due to the complicated process of producing the drink.

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