This week was all about Sherry and Port.
Sherry is made from white grapes only. The alcohol is increased by adding more alcohol after fermentation. In taste, that means that it can range from bone dry to really sweet depending on what is added. Our instructor noted that Sherry has a bad image, thanks to its own marketing strategy of many years ago. While trying to carve out a niche in the liquor market, Sherry was touted as an old lady's drink and the old ladies bought it in droves.
Unfortunately, nobody else did. And the old ladies were not a market that was going to last forever.
Now that Sherry has this old lady associating, it has definitely affected its appeal - but has kept the prices down....
Dave, our instructor, really likes Sherry - thanks to his initial introduction to it in a WSET course. When he was running a liquor establishment - not sure if it was a store or restaurant - one summer, he bought a case of Sherry to sell to customers as he extolled the virtues of Sherry. At the end of the summer, the case was gone - he had sold one bottle to a customer and had bought the other 11 and taken them home!
After trying three different types of Sherries, I have to say that, although I really enjoyed the aromas of the different Sherries I tried, I did not like the taste of any of them. I am pretty open to new tastes, especially with alcoholic beverage, but I really did not enjoy any Sherry. I will go over what I had, though, with ratings provided by my instructor, rather than me.
First was the rather inexpensive ($20) Tio Pepe. This pale, gold Sherry was a Fino - which is the youngest type of Sherry. A natural yeast called flor forms on the top of the barrel when it is fermenting (and the alcohol percent is about 15%) and this prevents any oxidation. It had a great aroma, smelling of vanilla, cloves, nuts and prunes and was medium intensity. On the palate, was a different story, It had some pretty interesting tastes as I detected green pepper, stewed fruits, biscuit and prune. It was dry with medium acidity, medium body and a medium finish. It was reminiscent of 'Almonds' and was rated Very Good.