A fortified wine originally made in and around the town of Jerez in the Andalusia region of southern Spain. It's now also made in the United States and other parts of the world such as Australia and South Africa. As with many wines, sherries range from connoisseur quality to inexpensive mass-produced versions. The Spanish are the acknowledged experts, using the solera system of topping off older wines with the more recently made sherry. Thus there are no vintage sherries and the quality is consistent year after year. Sherries range in color, flavor and sweetness. Fino, considered by many to be the world's finest sherry, is pale, delicate and very dry. Finos are excellent when young but should not be aged because they don't improve and may lose some of their vitality. They're often served chilled as an apéritif. Manzanilla sherries are very dry, delicate finos with a hint of saltiness, a character derived from the seaside town, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, in which they're made. Manzanillas are served cold, often to accompany seafood. Amontillado, considered a medium sherry, has a distinctly nutty flavor. Sometimes labeled milk sherry, amontillados are aged longer than finos and are typically sweeter, softer and darker in color. Oloroso sherries are sweet, fuller flavored and darker in color than dry or medium sherries. They are usually aged longer and are also more expensive. Olorosos are often labeled or golden sherries. Sherries can be drunk as an apéritif or after dinner. Dry sherries are usually drunk chilled; sweet sherries, at room temperature.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.