sherry [from Jérez], naturally dry fortified wine, pale amber to brown in tint. The term sherry originally referred to wines made from grapes grown in the region of Jérez de la Frontera, Andalusia, Spain; today it may refer to any of the fortified wines from S Spain and is also applied to similar wines produced in the United States, Latin America, and South Africa. After fermentation the wine is fortified with brandy. Matured in cask for several years, the wine when mature is classed as palma, very dry; raya, full and rich; or palo cortado, an intermediate variation. The big sherry houses blend the wines with reserves from the Soleras, collections of flavoring wines from very fine vintages, kept in dated casks and maintained for long periods by exact replenishment of the blending wine withdrawn from the oldest cask with wine from the next oldest. The varieties of sherry include amontillado and manzanilla, apéritif wines of the palma type; the fairly sweet, fruity oloroso and amoroso, blended from palo cortado; and the very sweet golden or brown sherries, raya blends. The dessert sherries are usually colored and sweetened by the addition of dark, syrupy wines. Sherry contains from 15% to 23% alcohol, the more highly fortified wines being for export. Sherry must be long matured in wood and bottle to acquire the mellowness demanded of brandied wines. It is a widely used flavoring in fine cookery.
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